Waves, Inc. has been providing support and programming to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 50 years. In 1973, the standard of care for adults with disabilities was institutionalization. A group of families in Fairview felt they could provide an environment that improved their loved one’s quality of life that did not involve an institution and decided to start Waves. Now, 50 years later, what started as a program serving a handful of families has grown into an organization serving over 1,000 families and individuals annually across Middle, TN.
The services at Waves start as early as birth for children born with a developmental delay or disability. Children referred through the Tennessee Early Intervention Services can receive one-on-one developmental therapy with the Waves Early Learning Program. Waves developmental therapy takes place in the home of the child, giving the caregivers the opportunity to utilize the natural environment in their child’s development. The goal of the Early Learning Program is to help children meet their developmental milestones with the hope they are on a more level playing field when they enter school with their typically developed peers. The program also helps caregivers build their confidence in being active agents in their child’s developmental progress.
Through the Katie Beckett Waiver, families with school-aged children can take advantage of services at Waves. After graduation, Waves Adult Services are available where further intervention or services are needed. The original day program Fairview is still in operation along with programming in Franklin. In addition to two-day programs, Waves also serves six homes in Williamson County that house 2-4 adults with disabilities. In five of the homes, staffing is available 24/7, while the sixth home serves two adults in the semi-independent program, meaning staff presence is not necessary every day. In each home, staff provides the support needed for everyone to live as independently as possible. Employment and community-integration services are also available, helping adults with disabilities be more integrated with the community and part of the workforce.
What makes Waves different from other nonprofit organizations serving the same population? All services available are free to the families. Children receiving developmental therapy receive services at no cost to their families. The majority of adults in the Adult Programs are on a state waiver through the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD). These state waivers allow free programming to take place regardless of family income. Waves are reimbursed by DIDD for services provided. Community support is still needed for programming to take place, though. Reimbursement rates and hourly pay standards from the State do not cover the true costs of programming.