Adult-services director has passion for special needs

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published May 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 3, 2013 at 1:03 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Carrie Schatz is also coordinator of the Ark START program, which stands for systemic therapeutic, assessment, respite and treatment. This is a crisis-intervention program geared toward people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs.

Carrie Schatz has worked hard to get to the position she is in today — the adult-services director at Civitan Services in Benton.

“I oversee all programming at Civitan Services,” Schatz said.

Civitan Services offers educational and life-skills training for people with developmental disabilities.

“We offer pre-vocational training in home economics, life skills, leisure arts, community, physical fitness and independent skills,” Schatz said.

Schatz has been with Civitan Services since August 2010.

“I got a phone call one day, and they told me that Civitan was looking for an adult-services director,” Schatz said.

Schatz said people with special needs have always had a place in her heart.

She worked at the Human Development Center in Conway while she pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Arkansas.

“The people changed my life,” Schatz said. “Their daily struggle that we see as a struggle to them; it’s not one to them.”

Schatz, originally from Des Arc, has always been in Arkansas and got a start to her career in the mental-health field. This came after spending many years in school to further her education.

Schatz started out at Arkansas State University in Beebe for two years, then transferred to the University of Central Arkansas, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in special education.

She then went to the University of Arkansas at Monticello, where she received a master’s degree in teaching.

After graduating from UCA, Schatz was given the opportunity to use her psychology degree at Rivendell Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas.

Rivendell is a behavioral health organization that provides mental-health services for adults, adolescents and children, Rivendell’s website states.

The health organization offers inpatient hospitalization, long-term inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization and outpatient services provided in an office, school or home setting.

During her time at Rivendell, Schatz taught seventh- through 12th-grade boys in the acute-care unit.

“I fell in love with the special-needs youth,” Schatz said. “They inspired me to further my education.”

After working at Rivendell, Schatz taught in the Alternative Learning Environment in the Sheridan Public School system for one year, where she taught kindergarten through sixth grade.

“I wanted to see what it was like to teach in the public school system,” Schatz said. “Rivendell offered me a teaching position while I was at Sheridan, and I went back and taught in the acute-care unit.”

After teaching for another year and a half, Schatz was promoted to program director at Rivendell.

“Anytime we had a [student] with special needs, I was just a magnet to them,” Schatz said.

She spent about eight years total at Rivendell.

She then moved to Civitan Services, which has given her the chance to work in a position where she can combine her work with people who have special needs.

“I work for the clients,” Schatz said. “They are the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. They have such dedication and drive.”

Aside from her job as adult-services director, Schatz is also coordinator of the Ark START program.

START stands for systemic therapeutic assessment, respite and treatment. This is a crisis-intervention program geared toward people with both developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs, Schatz said. She has been involved with the START program for about a year and a half.

The program gives Schatz an opportunity to work with clients outside of Civitan Services from throughout the state of Arkansas.

Her background of working with people with both developmental disabilities and mental-health problems has helped Schatz along the way.

“This program helps us intervene before a crisis occurs,” Schatz said. “It’s all about intervention and prevention.”

An evaluation is given to a potential START client, when warning signs before a crisis are identified.

“It may start with them

clenching their teeth and making a fist with their hand, and it’ll result in them hitting somebody,” Schatz said.

The clients at Civitan Services inspire Schatz on a daily basis.

“The majority of the time, their glass is half full,” Schatz said. “They fill you up each day.”

Clients are typically at the Benton facility for six to eight hours a day.

“We make sure it’s the best six to eight hours a day. I don’t want any second best for them,” Schatz said. “I come to work for them.”

Schatz said her favorite thing to do at Civitan Services is troubleshoot adaptive behaviors. She said all of the clients vary in ways they communicate, and she is focused on meeting their needs.

“It keeps them from being misunderstood,” Schatz said.

Schatz isn’t looking to move from her spot at Civitan Services

anytime soon, she said.

“Some places you just feel at home, and this is it,” Schatz said.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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