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St. Coletta's of Illinois returns to its roots in education and vocational training

Dec 14, 2022

Transfers CILA homes to Envision Unlimited

Providing the best possible care to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been the mission of St. Coletta’s of Illinois for nearly 74 years.

That mission continues as St. Coletta’s of Illinois proudly announces an agreement with Envision Unlimited to enhance services in St. Coletta’s Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) program.

CILA homes are for disabled adults that allow residents to live independently -- cooking, cleaning and caring for themselves and each other, alongside a qualified Direct Service Professional who provides supervision 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“The agreement with Envision allows St. Coletta’s to get back to our core mission, to our roots in special education and vocational training,” said Annette Skafgaard, Executive Director of St. Coletta’s of Illinois. “Our CILA residents will be able to access more extensive behavioral health resources and additional diversified support resources while St. Coletta’s of Illinois will be able to focus in on its school and Community Day Services programs.”

St. Coletta’s is transferring its CILA license to Envision Unlimited. The Chicago-based non-profit will take ownership and management of nearly two dozen homes effective December 14, 2022.

The best part of the arrangement is that residents won’t notice any disruptions, only positive changes.

“Because Envision is seamlessly hiring St. Coletta’s existing CILA staff, our residents will still have the same qualified Direct Service Professionals caring for and supervising them,” said Skafgaard. “Residents will have stability in their lives even as these positive new resources come online for them. They will continue their same daily routines, still attend the same Community Day Services and see the same recreational therapists and clinical therapists. Residents won’t feel that anything has really changed, but they will be given more extensive resources as they continue to improve their lives.”

Envision Unlimited is a full spectrum of care organization serving people with intellectual, developmental and psychiatric disabilities from ages 2 – 80+ years old regardless of race, gender, or ability to pay. Founded in Chicago in 1948, Envision Unlimited has a legacy of evolving care delivered with empathy, everytime and everywhere. Innovative services offered across Chicagoland and Central Illinois include novel day programs; community living options; employment, respite and mental health services; foster care for children with disabilities, and autism therapy.


St. Coletta’s, which first opened as a school for developmentally disabled boys in 1949, will continue to operate its therapeutic day school, The Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. School for Exceptional Children, as well as its Community Day Services program for adults from its Tinley Park campus.


Skafgaard noted that professional staff continues to expand and enrich St. Coletta’s services, including the school’s state-of-the-art culinary arts program, its vocational training and career exploration programs, and its Community Day Services’ in-house work and community-based employment opportunities.


New opportunities recently implemented at St. Coletta’s include:

·         Farm-to- School project teaching students how to prepare healthy meals using fruits and vegetables they grow in raised planter beds and newly installed greenhouse

·         Enhanced walking path and grounds

·         Recreational therapy program using a combination of sports, arts and crafts, dance and music to help reduce stress, anxiety and depression while building confidence and social skills

·         Two renovated therapy rooms that encourage individuals to communicate candidly during on-on-one therapy sessions


Advancing projects include:

·         Sensory room where individuals can learn how to cope with external stimuli

·         Construction of a pavilion where participants can gather for outdoor crafts and/or group projects

·         Building a Bridge Supported Employment program, with assistance from state and federal programs, to support students in the interim between graduation and permanent employment


Currently, St. Coletta’s has contracts with several area companies, including Atlas Putty Products Co. and Bamal Fasteners Corporation.

“Our adult participants earn money by packaging 3M Tacky Glue, Minwax Wood Filler and metal fasteners here is St. Coletta’s workshop. Participants also assemble I-PASS transponder boxes for Igor the Watch Dog Corporation to help support themselves,” said Skafgaard.


St. Coletta’s job coaches help participants secure employment in the community by assisting them through the application and job interview process. For many participants, these coaches also help with the on-the-job training.


Participants who have completed St. Coletta’s 12-week Janitorial Program are employed at Marcus Cinema, Jewel and T.J. Maxx. Graduates of St. Coletta’s extensive Culinary Arts Program now work at Portillo’s and Crumbl Cookies.


“We prepare the people we serve for integration into the larger community,” said Skafgaard. “As we move forward, those efforts will only continue to grow and expand.”


Founded in 1949 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Coletta’s of Illinois provides a lifelong continuum of care beginning in early childhood. More than 300 individuals from the south, southwest and western suburbs depend on St. Coletta’s programs and services each year.


To learn more about St. Coletta’s of Illinois or how you can support its mission, please visit call 708-342-5200.

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