Jennifer Buri da Cunha
Jennifer Buri da Cunha
18 during the school year; 25 during the summer
Annual number of students:
Average Length of Stay:
Approximately one year.
The Staff Assistant Experience accepts participants year-round on a rolling basis. Admissions decisions are made based on submission of Ramapo's application materials (applicant questionnaire, parent questionnaire, health history) and a one night visit. Admissions decisions are typically made within 48 hours of the overnight visit.
Appropriate Student/ Resident:
Young adults 18-25 years old with learning differences, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders who are motivated to strengthen their social, job, and independent living skills in order to transition to college and/or employment. The Staff Assistant Experience is not a clinical program and is not appropriate for young adults who are currently or have recently been facing issues related to self-harm, suicidal ideation, aggression, elopement, substance abuse, eating disorders, or hypersexuality.
Gender: Co-Ed - 53% Male; 47% Female
Age Range: 18-25
The Staff Assistant Experience (SAE) is a year-round, residential transition-to-independence program for young adults with learning differences, ADHD, and/or autism spectrum disorders. The program offers participants an opportunity to practice vocational and life skills in a communal setting that includes typically developing coworkers and peer role models. Participants improve and reinforce interpersonal, independent living, and job skills; build resilience and self-determination; and develop a “future orientation.” Based at Ramapo for Children’s beautiful Rhinebeck campus, the program is designed for young adults ages 18 to 25 who:
Each Staff Assistant is matched with a peer mentor, one or more job coaches, and a roommate who is a Ramapo staff member. These individuals collaborate with SAE staff to deliver a highly individualized program consisting of on- and off-campus work experience, one-on-one and small group coaching, seminars/group discussions, and recreational activities/outings.
- Seek increased self-sufficiency
- Are interested in exploring employment opportunities, independent living, and college coursework
- Are navigating learning differences, Asperger’s/high-functioning autism, or ADHD and can benefit from a structured program which offers coaching on life skills (healthy eating habits, physical fitness, organization, time management, meal planning and preparation, budgeting, laundry, hygiene/grooming, housekeeping, etc.)
- Need support and supervision to develop a social network and manage free time productively
Staff to Student Ratio:
During the school year, the staff:participant ratio is 2:1. There are 11 full-time staff as well as an additional 25 staff who serve as roommates, job coaches and peer mentors for Staff Assistants for approximately 18 participants. SAE-specific staff work directly with participants from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and a staff member is available on an on call basis 24 hours per day. During the summer, the staff:participant ratio is approximately 4:1. There are approximately 8 additional participants, 8 additional SAE staff members and approximately 100 other summer staff members who work with Staff Assistants as roommates and job coaches.
Psychotropic Medications Allowed?:
The Staff Assistant Experience is not a clinical program. However, we work with many clinicians in the area and will provide transportation to appointments.
Policy: Participants must identify their meds and take them correctly on their own. Ramapo can store participants' medications and provide reminders if necessary.
The Staff Assistant Experience is not a school. However, there is a Fieldwork in Special Education course which takes place on campus during the summer. Staff Assistants who choose to work at least part-time with campers may take the course along with summer camp staff. The course is worth 6 undergraduate credits. Additionally, young adults may take online courses and/or classes at Dutchess Community College, Bard College, and SUNY Ulster. Ramapo will provide transportation and academic support and refer participants to free tutors at the college or private tutors in the area (fees for private tutors are the responsibility of the family).
The Staff Assistant Experience is located at Ramapo for Children's Rhinebeck, NY campus. In addition to the Staff Assistant Experience, the 240 acre campus operates Ramapo Retreats, a short-term teambuilding retreat program for groups from schools and community-based organizations, and Camp Ramapo, a sleep-away summer camp for children with social, emotional, and learning challenges. The campus consists of dozens of buildings, indoor and outdoor high and low ropes courses, a freshwater lake for swimming, boating/canoeing, and fishing, a gym/fitness center, a community dining hall, and miles of hiking trails. Staff Assistants have their own rooms in suites and two-bedroom apartments that they share with Ramapo staff members. Participants are able to take advantage of the beautiful Hudson Valley area for a wide variety of educational, recreational, and social experiences.
Ramapo offers optional parents support call/videoconferences each month, as well as an annual event for families each June. Parents of year-round participants may choose to have a weekly call with an SAE staff member to discuss their young adult's experience.
Follow Up Programming:
Participants who have demonstrated that they can manage day-to-day living with minimal support and who are working off-campus at least 20 hours/week may join the Post-SAE program. The Post-SAE program allows young adults to continue to live at, eat meals at, and get transportation to work from Ramapo, but are able to function independently. Ramapo is available for support and coaching at the young adult's initiative. Ramapo also offers an Alumni Support Program which provides regular contact with SAE staff and optional phone/videoconferences and recreational opportunities with Staff Assistants and other alumni.
Ramapo's evaluation indicated that 92% of young adults who start the program complete it successfully, and 91% of school year participants transition successfully to college, another educational experience (such as culinary school), or employment.
Ramapo will provide transportation to local places of worship for services, social events, and meetings with pastors, priests, rabbis, etc. Ramapo does not have a kosher kitchen, but can provide a vegetarian option.
Summer/ Adjunct Program: Ramapo offers a summer-only Staff Assistant Experience in which participants work exclusively on-campus for 9 weeks.
Professional Affiliations: N/A
Accreditation, Licensure, Approved: Ramapo is a private not-for-profit which is licensed by the Dutchess County Department of Health.
Payment Category: Ramapo accepts private payments, payments from school districts, payments from New York State's Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, and other third party payments.