Frequently Asked Questions

Just the Facts

Education is our priority.

Here are the basics about Damar’s growing continuum of care for people challenged by autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and community.

Learning about Damar

Founded over 50 years ago by two parents wanting the best for their own children with disabilities, Damar Services sets itself apart by delivering remarkable care and results for remarkable people of all ages and with a wide range of needs.

Damar is a national leader among organizations serving children and adults with developmental and behavioral disabilities and continues its commitment to serving its clients and the families and caregivers who surround them.

Children and adults, from toddlers to senior citizens, with all kinds of developmental and behavioral disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers.

We work with the people with the mildest of symptoms to those with pronounced disabilities.

Additionally, Damar Foster Care program recruits, prepares, and supports quality foster parents on behalf of children, with disabilities or not, who are unable to live at home.

Damar’s staff is mindful that disabilities affect the entire family and surrounding community, not just one person. We provide a full range of services for people of any age and level of disability, as well as caregivers. These services include autism diagnostic testing, educational and residential assistance, transitional living, and foster care. We also offer Medicaid waiver assistance, among other important services.

Our headquarters is at 6067 Decatur Blvd., Indianapolis, Indiana.

We also have a number of additional community sites and service centers in the greater Indianapolis area and across the state. Those include ABA Autism Services by Damar, Damar Foster Care Services, Damar Public Charter Academy, Damar Private Academy and Community Living and Support Services (CLASS), all at 5125 Decatur Blvd., Indianapolis, Indiana; ABA Autism Services by Damar at 9905 Fall Creek Road, Indianapolis; 7105 Galen Dr. W, Avon, Indiana, and a pharmacy at 5715 Decatur Blvd., Indianapolis, Indiana.

We use a combination of funds from Indiana’s Department of Child Services and Department of Education, Medicaid, and private insurance to support our operations.

Gifts to the Damar Foundation help us maintain the highest levels of service, now and into the future. The foundation was created in 2015, in part, with a $100,000 gift from the Tynan family—long-time, generous supporters of Damar.

All gifts to the Damar Foundation from individuals or corporations, donations of stock, planned gifts, or other forms of support are tax deductible. Damar Foundation is a registered not-for-profit organization.

Absolutely, as long as you have a passion for making a difference in the lives of others. We employ entry-level and experienced professionals and also offer internships.

For more information, and to browse current openings, please visit the careers page here.

The easiest way to help support our mission is to give a tax-deductible gift. If you would like to donate, please click here.

There are also plenty of volunteer roles. No matter how you would like to to serve, we are confident we can find a volunteer opportunity for you. Some options include leading a formalwear drive for the Damar prom, assisting clients during special events, helping shop for and wrap holiday gifts, forming a company volunteer group and hosting a toy/sports equipment drive. If you would like to volunteer, please contact us here.

Questions about Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavioral Analysis is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. Over the past decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening, and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.

From the initial diagnosis of autism, Damar ABA Autism Services provide an intensive, collaborative assessment, which leads to the development of an individualized treatment program tailored to each child’s needs. Programs may include autism diagnostic testing, speech and occupational therapy, behavior training, natural environment training, social skills training, and sensory integration.

All people are different, so there is no set amount of time, only guidelines. But studies have shown the intensive therapy of 25 to 40 hours a week that lasts for one to three years improves outcomes for many.

Many parents find ABA while searching for answers to early signs of autism, including lack of communication/speech, troubled toilet training, food aversion, or sleep issues such as not sleeping or waking up multiple times.

Indiana has an “autism mandate,” which means ABA is covered under many Indiana-based insurance plans. Our team will work with you to understand your coverage or help you find a plan to cover an ABA program. Fundraising opportunities are also available to help with coverage.

Damar ABA Autism Services is accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence® (BHCOE®)—a certification given to applied behavior analysis providers that fulfill both clinical and administrative standards.

Damar offers three categories of treatment, including a comprehensive program of 30 to 40 hours of ABA therapy per week, intended for children who exhibit intense interfering behaviors or display significant deficits in adaptive behavior. Our focused program of 20 hours or less per week is intended for children who display fewer interfering behaviors and may have strong functional communication skills and a limited program of five hours, or less, focuses on social skills and parent training.

Damar ABA Autism Services is accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence® (BHCOE®)—a certification given to applied behavior analysis providers that fulfill both clinical and administrative standards. Another resource to locate providers is indianadisabilityresourcefinder.org.

Facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism—or autism spectrum disorder—is a complicated developmental disability. While it can result in a wide range of behaviors, it is mainly exhibited in four categories: social skill limitations, sensory integration challenges, language and communication problems, and atypical behaviors. In some cases these effects are subtle. In other cases, they can be so severe they impair a person’s ability to function at home and in the community.

It is becoming more and more common and, in fact, is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, affecting 1 in every 59 children.

While you can find a number of theories about the causes of autism, most credible experts agree that we simply do not yet know what truly causes autism.

An important sign is the lack of language development, including the absence of babbling and cooing as an infant. Other indicators are a lack of facial expressions, and little or no response to cuddling. In more severe cases, the infant might actually pull away from physical nurturing.

If you think that your child might have autism, you can begin by consulting your primary care physician or pediatrician because sometimes symptoms that appear to indicate autism are caused by treatable medical conditions. However, if you and your physician suspect autism, ABA Autism Service by Damar can provide diagnostic assessments performed by a childhood psychologist.

There are no established diagnostic tests for autism in adults, so a diagnosis has to lean heavily on observation. Tests, however, are currently in development. Autism is more commonly identified in children between ages two and three.

Early intervention and Applied Behavior Analysis, also known as ABA, are the only treatments for autism that show clear, positive results. Common interventions for children with autism include specific behavioral supports and response plans, direct verbal and nonverbal communication training, sensory training to help with reactions to touches, sights, smells, tastes and sounds, and social skills training.

There is no cure, but Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is widely recognized—even by the U.S. Surgeon General—as a safe and effective treatment for autism. Over the past decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives.

Contacting Us

Want to learn more about Damar’s services for yourself or a loved one? Want specific information about career opportunities? Or do you just want to know more about the Damar organization?

Please contact us at the appropriate email listed below, and we will reply promptly.

Diagnosing Autism

If you suspect your child has autism, you can begin by consulting your primary care physician or pediatrician.

Sometimes symptoms that appear to indicate autism are caused by treatable medical conditions. However, if you and your physician suspect autism, ABA Autism Service by Damar can provide diagnostic assessments performed by a childhood psychologist.

There is no single test used to diagnose autism, but any evaluation will involve assessments of cognitive functioning, expressive and receptive language, behavioral functioning, and, in some cases, academic skills. There will also likely be a developmental and family history interview, as well as observations of the child in a variety of different settings.

Doctors evaluate a child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable.

During developmental screening, there is a short test to tell whether children are learning basic skills. The doctor might ask the parent questions or talk and play with the child to see how he or she learns, speaks, behaves, and moves.

The second step, a comprehensive evaluation, can include observing the child’s behavior and development and interviewing parents. It may also include hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing.

Because diagnostic tests for ASD in adults are not yet established (but are in development) diagnosis leans heavily on observation and the model used for children. A clinician may interview the patient about current challenges in the areas of social interaction, communication, and sensory issues, and they may talk to older relatives about the person’s childhood.

Becoming a Foster Parent

Individuals, couples, and partners in Indiana must meet the following requirements:

  • All members of the household must pass several criminal background checks and have no substantiated record of abusing or neglecting children.
  • Possess a vehicle, a valid driver’s license and documentation of valid automobile insurance coverage and cooperate in providing transportation to family visits, medical appointments. and the child’s daily activities.
  • Have a household income that supports the family and additional foster child without being dependent on the foster care per diem reimbursement.
  • Live in a home that can meet basic fire, safety, and sanitary standards, with enough bedroom space for a child and the child’s personal belongings.
  • All household members must provide a physician’s statement verifying they are free from any mental or physical condition that would hinder their ability to care for a child.
  • Be at least 21 years old, able to provide personal references and able to work in partnership with Damar Foster Care Services’ staff to provide for the child’s needs—emotionally, physically, and developmentally.
  • Be able and willing to complete free Resource and Adoptive Parent Training (RAPT), CPR, First Aid and Universal Precautions training, and complete ongoing annual training requirements.
  • Adhere to all foster care rules and regulations as outlined by the Indiana Department of Child Services, as well as Damar Foster Care Services.

Damar will help you every step of the way. Damar Foster Care Services is a fully licensed and accredited not-for-profit child placement agency. We recruit and prepare foster parents for their journey, then support them.

Becoming a foster parents has seven steps:

  1. Get in touch with us (see below).
  2. Attend an orientation meeting.
  3. Complete the application.
  4. Attend foster care training.
  5. Participate in a home study process.
  6. Wait for approval.
  7. Prepare for a child to be placed in your home.

If you would like to begin the process, please contact us.

Children are placed in foster care for a variety of reasons but the goal is the same: to ensure their safety and well-being.

Typically, a child is placed in foster care as a result of a report to Child Protective Services by someone who is concerned for his or her safety. Following the report, when a social worker investigates and also deems the child’s circumstances unsafe, the child is placed in foster care. Common reasons are abuse and neglect.

Foster care is, however, meant to be temporary. The goal of the system is to reunite the child with his or her biological family; however, the safety of the child is the priority.

Each child’s length of stay in foster care is determined by their family case plan. The child can leave foster care after a short time or remain for an extended time, even up to adulthood.

When possible, the initial goal for foster children is the prompt reunification with their birth parents. When reunification cannot occur, permanency placement plans can change to include kinship care, adoption, guardianship or preparation for independent living (for older youth transitioning to adulthood).

Independent Living

It depends on their unique challenges, but some people with disabilities are very successful living alone.

Damar offers a variety of programs to make the transition smooth, including group homes that offer secure and comfortable environments. Services include 24-hour supervision and daily skills training; individual, family, and group counseling; treatment provided by a multi-disciplinary team, including health and recreational services; Individualized Education Program services; integration into the community through daily exposure and training and support for family.

Transitions can be particularly difficult (and particularly important) for children with developmental disabilities and behavioral challenges.

For those times when children are moving from one setting or type of care to another, Damar offers supportive services designed to ensure success. Using group homes, Damar Transitional Living Services serves youth who are:

  • At risk of needing residential care
  • Transitioning back to a family home from residential care
  • Transitioning to a foster, group, or independent living setting
  • Transitioning to adult support living service/Medicaid Waiver Services

Referrals & Intake at Damar

Start by contacting by someone from our Child and Family Services staff by answering a few questions here. We’ll get back to you as quickly as possible!

Please begin by contacting Damar here.

Damar’s Residential Services

Sometimes, children living with developmental and behavioral disabilities need a safe, secure place where they can receive expert care along with heartfelt compassion.

Since it first opened a half century ago, Damar Services has been dedicated to being that place. Offered in a village setting, Damar’s residential programs provide children with developmental and behavioral disabilities the services, attention, and care they need to become increasingly independent.

When more intensive interventions are necessary, Damar Services has the facilities and expertise to produce remarkable results and peace of mind for caregivers and families.

The short answer is we have an array of services and amenities to meet your child’s individual needs.

Residential facilities are built on a campus, with green space and plenty of room for both indoor and outdoor activities. We have comfortable dormitories, schools, a gymnasium, swimming pool, sports fields, a cafeteria and other facilities that allow us to provide the children on our campus with a pleasant, enjoyable, and supportive environment.

Damar also operates a number of group homes as part of its ongoing goal to help children with developmental and behavioral disabilities integrate into the community and live more independently. Youth—usually ages 14 and older—receive 24-hour supervision and training in homes with six to eight children. Services providing structure and support in daily living, community integration, and behavior plans are the focus; mental health treatment is available as needed.

Damar Group Homes are funded primarily by Medicaid and are licensed by the Indiana State Department of Health. Referrals for Group Home placement can be made through the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services.

Referrals must come through the Department of Child Services or your local school.

Damar accepts school-aged children into its residential program.

The children in Damar’s residential program show a wide range of behaviors, including those who need high levels of supervision and some whose needs are less intensive.

In all cases, the goal is to ensure the safety of the child and others and also to help residents address the triggers behind those behaviors and reduce their incidence.

Damar accepts school-aged children into its residential program.

The children in Damar’s residential program show a wide range of behaviors, including those who need high levels of supervision and some whose needs are less intensive.

In all cases, the goal is to ensure the safety of the child and others and also to help residents address the triggers behind those behaviors and reduce their incidence.

Yes. Visits are coordinated with your child’s care team to ensure that your child is prepared and that a visit will be constructive experience, helping the child progress in his or her development.

Not currently, but we are planning to expand our continuum of care through Damar Village, which will provide a $4.25 million fully supported and integrated living community for adults. The state-of-the-art living center will have ten one-story buildings with 2,600- or 3,200-square-foot, duplex-style homes.

The Living Center will be a public, low-income, high-quality housing project rented at or below market rate. It will be an  integrated setting, emphasizing family and community engagement.

Residential placements are fully funded by the Department of Education, Department of Child Services, or Medicaid.

Resources & Support

Damar provides short-term, in-home care for children and adults with developmental, intellectual, and behavioral challenges to give caregivers a break. Staff members learn the family’s routine, and they are trained to meet the specialized needs of each individual.

Here are seven important things to consider when interacting with children who have autism, courtesy of Dr. Jim Dalton, behavioral health expert and Damar’s president and CEO.

  1. Every child with autism is unique.The ways that autism manifests vary widely from person to person; the challenges of someone with the disorder are as unique as they are.
  2. The impact of autism varies. The autism spectrum ranges from mild to moderate to severe, each with implications for the child and how he or she responds to the world.
  3. While levels may vary, there are three main areas of interaction the disorder affects—communication, socialization and behavior. This can mean that children sometimes use gestures or behaviors as a response, or show an aversion to environments or conversations. When talking to children with or without autism, make sure you have their attention before speaking, use clear, simple language, and try to meet them at their comfort level.
  4. Children with autism have unique ways to get their needs met. As humans, we behave in ways that tend to get us reinforcement or allow us to feel relief. A child with autism might exhibit self-injury (for example, hitting himself or herself in the face area), which seems like a confusing reaction from the outside but could feel soothing for the child.
  5. Understand and accommodate their sensitivities. Children with autism may experience severe sensory deficits or over-reactions to sensory stimuli, including lights and sounds, so make your environment sensitive to their needs. Routine also plays an important role in the lives of people with autism, so honor their schedule.
  6. Display openness. When you encounter a child with autism, you should be accepting but also cautious. Giving an open facial expression to show acceptance is usually very helpful to the family as opposed to rejection and gasping. Being the caregiver of a child with autism can mean experiencing a lot of judgmental stares and whispers from people who know little about the disorder. By being open and accepting, you’ll bring comfort to both the caregiver and child.
  7. Take cues from the caregiver. It’s OK to ask the caregiver of a child with autism if you can provide support. Often, especially when the child is severely affected, parents might decline the offer, but they appreciate your openness.

Damar’s support group, Parent Voices, sponsors casual social gatherings and workshops that provide information helpful to parents raising children with intellectual or behavioral disabilities.

Guiding the program is Donna Hammock, one of Damar’s Parent Advocates and the parent of a child supported by Damar.

Schools, Education, Mentoring, and Tutoring

Our Public Charter Academy, at 5125 Decatur Blvd., is Indiana’s first charter school serving a sizable population of children, grades kindergarten through 12, with developmental and behavioral challenges. Our staff is trained to work with special needs and behaviorally challenged students, and we offer individualized learning programs, as well as behavior management systems. Damar Charter Academy is tuition-free.

Damar Academy, at 6067 Decatur Blvd., offers comprehensive special education services for students ages six to 21. Damar Academy is fully accredited by the Indiana Department of Education and can contract with local school corporations to provide educational programming to children who qualify.

Most of its students come from Indiana, but Damar Academy also accepts students from other states.

Damar Charter Academy serves children with developmental and behavioral challenges, grades kindergarten through 12, tuition-free.

Damar Academy offers comprehensive special education services for students ages six to 21 and can contract with local school corporations to provide educational programming to children who qualify. Most of its students come from Indiana, but Damar Academy also accepts students from other states.

Damar Charter Academy delivers its educational opportunities tuition-free. However, student families are responsible for paying all applicable registration fees, book rental and supply charges, student activity fees, and meal costs.

Costs associated with Damar Academy are funded through the Department of Education.

Damar offers both public and private academies as well as an education mentoring program that provides in-school support to help your child learn while being a part of his or her school community.

Damar’s Education Mentoring Program can provide assistance by providing in-school support, helping your child learn while being a part of his or her education community. This service—free to families with a qualifying elementary, middle, or high school student—matches your student with a staff member trained to provide one-on-one, in-school support tailored to his or her needs.

Becoming an Adult

Taking on the responsibilities of living independently can be a challenge for any young adult, but children leaving the foster care system face special challenges. Damar Service connects youth in several parts of the state with local resources that help them with employment and everyday living needs they will have as adults.

For adults living with developmental and behavioral disabilities, individual challenges and goals might vary widely, but the main objective is almost always the same: to allow each individual to live more independently. In some cases that means finding the right group home and, for others, it means providing support in family homes or homes of their own.

Yes. Damar offers a continuum of services to help your child transition into adulthood. Whether we serve people in their family homes, in group-home settings or in homes of their own, we can provide the supports and assistance necessary to live successful and fulfilling lives.

Remain supportive as you, your child and his/her team decides whether your family home, a home of his/her own or a group-home setting is best.

If living an independent life in the community is the best option, Damar provides support through its Community Living & Support Services program, known as “CLASS.” We will work with you and your child to identify the right home setting—whether that’s alone, with family, or with roommates—and then assist, as needed, with daily tasks and responsibilities. Damar’s services include daily assistance, life-skills training, employment support, and other services, all with the aim of helping the individual realize their potential, fulfill their dreams, and live an increasingly meaningful life.

Learning about Transitional Living

When children are moving from one setting to another, Damar offers supportive services designed to ensure success.

Using group homes, Damar Transitional Living Services serves youth who are at risk of needing residential care, transitioning back to family homes, foster or group homes, and adult-support living services. We also support youth who are transitioning to independent living settings.

These homes offer secure and comfortable environments with 24-hour supervision. Services include daily skills training; individual, family, and group counseling; treatment provided by a multi-disciplinary team, including health and recreational services; Individual Education Program (IEP) services, community-integration and support and training for family.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

It depends on their unique challenges, but some people with autism are very successful living alone. Taking on the responsibilities of living independently as an adult, however, can be a challenge for any young adult.

Damar offers a variety of programs to make the transition smooth. We can also connect youth in several parts of the state with local resources for assistance with employment and everyday living needs.

They can enroll in Damar’s Transitional Services, which use group homes to prepare your teen for his or her next chapter in life. When they are moving from one setting or type of care to another, Damar offers supportive services designed to ensure success.

These homes offer secure and comfortable environments with support and services including:

  • 24-hour supervision and daily skills training
  • Individual, family, and group counseling
  • Treatment provided by a multi-disciplinary team, including health and recreational services
  • IEP services provided by either Damar’s accredited on-campus school or one of the local public schools
  • Integration into the community through daily exposure and practice
  • Family training and support

Volunteering at Damar

No matter how you want to serve, we are confident we can find an opportunity for you. Some options include leading a formalwear drive for the Damar prom, assisting clients during special events, helping shop for and wrap holiday gifts, forming a company volunteer group and hosting a toy/sports equipment drive. If you would like to volunteer, please contact us.

Yes. Your corporation or community group will be welcomed and valued.

Group opportunities are pre-planned and usually include some sort of client experience. Many groups volunteer at events on Damar’s campus or volunteer to help with the extensive maintenance needs of our campus, everything from raking leaves to planting flowers.

Yes. However, volunteers are never alone with clients without supervision.

Every day, somebody is volunteering at Damar. Whether it’s a college student helping kids play a game, a professional serving on a board committee, a retiree helping plant flowers, or any number of people engaged in a wide range of activities, anyone can find a way to help.

Some other options include leading a formalwear drive for the Damar prom, assisting clients during special events, helping shop for and wrap holiday gifts and hosting a toy/sports equipment drive.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact us.

Careers at Damar

Responsibilities vary, but we spend each day improving the lives of people living with life’s most challenging behavioral and developmental disabilities. From the entry-level employee to the clinical specialist,  our staff is dedicated to serving our clients to achieve remarkable results.

Browse our current job listings here.

You must have a passion for making a remarkable difference in the lives of others.

While responsibilities vary with positions, successful candidates must complete a pre-employment drug screen and meet the background screening requirements of the programs where they will work.

With competitive benefits and a culture of compassion, innovation and fun, Damar Services offers you the opportunity to do remarkable work making a difference in the lives of others.

Questions?

If you have additional questions about Damar, please get in touch with us.