Lakeshore Community Services, Inc. was established in 1986 to provide residential care for persons with intellectual disabilities. The agency has since expanded its efforts to include supports for persons with serious and persistent mental illness. Lakeshore Community Services espouses the belief that all individuals, regardless of the presence or severity of a mental handicap, are capable of continuing development. Lakeshore Community Services is dedicated to enhancing the personal dignity, health, safety, and social well-being of persons with disabilities.
Lakeshore Community Services was created in 1986 in response to the need of the Erie County Department of Human Services for a new residential service provider. In the mid 1980's, the Department was commissioned with the task of returning more than fifty Erie County citizens, each a person with an intellectual disability, to small community-based settings. These individuals were housed in large institutions across the Commonwealth. In the spring and fall of 1987, Lakeshore offered housing opportunities to twenty persons, followed by another twelve persons in 1988. In May of 1988, the agency, originally organized under the auspices of Home Health Services of Erie, became an independent 501c3 nonprofit corporation.
Under the direction of a volunteer Board of Directors, Lakeshore has continued to expand its efforts. Originally, the organization served persons with a long history of institutionalization. Since that time, the agency has distinguished itself with creative efforts to serve persons with severe reputations and with the development of programs unique to the Commonwealth for persons with intellectual disabilities who have reached retirement age. In 1993, Lakeshore broadened its mission to include semi-independent living for persons with serious and persistent mental illness, once again creating a program not otherwise duplicated in the local service system. In 1994, the agency added Supported as well as Family Living services for persons with intellectual disabilities. In 1997, Lakeshore initiated a contract with Cameron, Elk and McKean Office of Mental Retardation to open a facility in Kane, Pennsylvania for two persons with intellectual disabilities residing at Warren Sate Hospital. The facility opened in October of that year. A second home was opened in Kane and two more in DuBois, Pennsylvania in 1998, in response to the joint efforts of Cameron, Elk, McKean, Clearfield and Jefferson counties to bring a number of their residents home from institutional settings. This project was expanded by the opening of a home in Brockway, Pennsylvania in the spring of 1999 and a third home in Kane in June of 2001.
Lakeshore's services to persons with serious and persistent mental illness were expanded to Corry, Pennsylvania in January of 1999, with the initiation of supports for eight persons living in a facility operated by Housing and Neighborhood Development Services (HANDS). Lakeshore maintains a small office in Corry where staff provide medication monitory and housing support. In the fall of 2003, Lakeshore took on a new role as a provider of Intensive Case Management Services, greatly increasing the number of individuals with mental illness that the agency is able to support. This service, now titled Blended Case Management, expanded in 2008 to include as many as 700 individuals in service at any one time.
In the fall of 2005, Lakeshore Community Services was offered the opportunity to present its programs to a number of individuals and their families who resided in Warren, Pennsylvania. The individuals were housed in facilities operated by a provider who was scheduled to cease operations on January 1, 2006. As a result of the presentation, Lakeshore was selected to assume responsibility for six group homes in Forest/Warren counties. In 2008, Lakeshore opened a small Adult Training Facility in Warren to serve individuals from these homes and from the community. Lakeshore has since expanded the number of group homes to nine, as of September 2014.
Currently, Lakeshore Community Services provides residential care or assistance to more than 700 individuals. Lakeshore is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services and Office of Intellectual Disabilities and is certified by the Office of Mental Health. It is funded in its efforts by the Erie County Department of Human Services, Cameron and Elk Behavioral/Developmental Program, the McKean County Department of Human Services, Community Connections formally known as Clearfield Jefferson Mental Health/Mental Retardation Programs, and Forest, Warren Department of Human Services, grants from the community, and private contributions.