News Article Details

Footprints Center for Autism plans to open doors to students in fall

Star Beacon - 1/8/2018

Jan. 08--ASHTABULA -- A new treatment center for those with autism will be available to county residents starting in the fall, officials announced this month.

The Footprints Center for Autism became officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Ohio in August 2017 and announced its organization in December.

Footprints Center for Autism is an Ohio-based 502(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational and therapeutic services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities in Northeast Ohio with particular focus in Lake, Ashtabula and Geauga counties.

"We plan to open our treatment center in eastern Lake County to students in September," said Clincial Director and Occupational Therapist Nicole Best. "Our first major fundraiser is coming up on Feb. 17."

Best is also an intervention specialist. She said Footprints is in the process of finding the right location to treat and educate people with autism, and will host a major fundraiser to secure the right facility for its treatment center.

She said Footprints hopes to be a positive resource for the communities it serves, and hopes to open the bridge between schools and homes to make education and communication easier for students and their families.

"We hope to provide services for at least six people from ages 3 to 22 with autism in the first year, however the number could go as high as 15, depending on demand," she said. "If we have more students than that, we'll just hire more staff to provide adequate treatment for them."

She said the Footprints Center's mission is to provide comprehensive, collaborative and child-centered programming for individuals with autism in a positive and non-restrictive learning environment so that each child can reach their highest potential and achieve excellence in all aspects of life.

"Footprints Center for Autism envisions a world where all people with autism have the resources to live up to his or her fullest potential across all settings," Best said.

"There are many gaps in the consistency of intervention between school, home, and the community. The Footprints Center intends to help bridge those gaps by providing individualized therapy for the child and collaborative training opportunities for their families and caretakers."

She said Footprints intends to be an "autism scholarship provider."

"In order to get a full scholarship, some criteria must be met, but once that is determined, the student will receive a full scholarship and receive services required by the student's individualized education plan, or IEP," she said.

She said Footprints has depended on grants and fundraising to help create a full service facility.

"We're having our first major fundraiser on Feb.17," she said. "It will be at the Patrician Party Center in Eastlake from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It will feature a children's fashion show, a Chinese auction, silent auction, dinner and dancing. We're hoping to sell 500 tickets. We're selling single tickets and couples tickets and looking for corporate sponsorships."

Footprints Center for Autism Clinical Director Claire Calderea said the Center's programs for treating autism will not be that much different from others in Cuyahoga County, but the emphasis will be on convenience and proximity. "There are others treatment centers in northeast Ohio, but this one will cater directly to families in Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties," she said. "We're trying to create a high quality facility that is closer for them. There is definitely a need for it. We hope to reach out to families who often must drive over an hour just to receive treatment."

She said Footprints will provide special education services, as well as speech and occupational therapy.

"We're appreciative of all the support we've received and excited to actually begin working with children and their families and communities," said Calderea.

Best said more information on Footprints, information on the fundraiser or any inquiries about students who might benefit from the center can be found at their website at


(c)2018 the Star Beacon (Ashtabula, Ohio)

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