Day Trippin'

Who doesn’t love a day trip?  A chance to explore places close enough to home that they are easy to get to but far enough away that you don’t go to them every day.  We are fortunate that Ohio has many places that are worth the drive and make for enjoyable day trips.  Each year we offer the individuals we serve the chance to go to Kings Island, Cedar Point, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Circleville Pumpkin festival, the Ohio Caverns, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and many more.  Generally, these trips are between 45 miles to 150 miles from home and we strive to offer one per week.  To make these trips a success, a day trip coordinator is essential.  The day trip coordinator is responsible for deciding what trips will be offered, researching entry fees, special needs accommodations, special hours, or closures.  This part of the job has gotten increasingly difficult as we have gone through the pandemic, and we did need to pause our day trips for a few months.  However, with a lot of creativity, we have been able to start providing day trip opportunities again.  After the day trip coordinator has established what each day trip will be and how much it will cost, the trip choices and costs can be approved by administration and sent to families and individuals for signups.  One of the key elements of these trips is finding establishments that will allow care providers in free of charge.  Although autism is specifically covered under ADA and care providers are a necessary accommodation for individuals who cannot attend these venues without a caregiver, it can be difficult to ensure that venues do not charge for Medicaid authorized care providers.  Because these care providers are paid for by Medicaid, they have been determined to be medically necessary for the individual.  One of the day trip coordinators essential tasks is to help venues understand ADA and how it applies to those we serve.  It is more cost effective for individuals with limited funds when they are not charged double the amount a typical person would be due to the need for a care provider.  After signups are complete, families or individuals pay for trips ahead of time so tickets, parking passes, etc. can be purchased.  The day trip coordinator distributes an envelope to each provider who is attending the trip that contains the itinerary, tickets, a driving bonus if applicable, parking passes, etc. that are needed for the trip.  It is essential that the itinerary includes the name and address of the venue, the approximate time that groups will leave, the amount of time it takes to travel to the venue, the estimated amount of time that will be spent at the venue, lunch options and the amount of time it will take to travel back.  Lunch options may include addresses of fast food available on the way to the venue, food available at the venue or instruction that a packed lunch will be needed.  The other essential element that is included is a map of the venue.  While providers can put the address of the venue into any smart phone and get directions to the venue, they cannot easily access a map of the venue itself.  We have found these maps are most important for large venues like amusement parks.  This allows providers to seamlessly find restrooms, break areas, food, etc.  The more information that providers have, the greater the chance of a successful day trip.