This KenCrest Employee is Changing the Tides


By Sydney Kerelo

For more than 13 years, Erika Frank has worked for KenCrest, starting in the Supported Independent Living (SIL) program and then transitioning through the Residential program and the Champion department.

But recently, she’s returned to a program most near and dear to her heart as the Assistant Director for Supported Independent Living.

Frank launched her Human Services career running a grant program for a New Jersey school because she wanted to work directly with people and help them find success and independence. Then she discovered KenCrest, and everything changed.

She spent 13 years bouncing around various departments, learning the organization’s ins and outs and how to best support the people we serve. She transitioned into her latest role in January for more hands-on opportunities with the people we support and to help them live more meaning-filled lives.

“People should have the encouragement and the skill building to live independently,” says Frank. “I like that KenCrest provides a strategic goal to provide housing for people to live independently rather than live in a community home. Everyone deserves to feel pride in taking care of themselves, making their own choices on how they want to live and whom they want to befriend.”

“There shouldn’t be a difference between somebody with a disability and someone without a disability when it comes to living on their own,” she adds.

As the new Assistant Director for Supported Independent Living, Frank focuses on finding the best ways to support her staff, residents, and their families. One thing she’s noticed is an increase in the need for mental health support. According to her, the SIL program has received an uptick in referrals focused on mental health needs.

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According to the CDC, many adults with disabilities report experiencing frequent mental distress almost five times as often as those without disabilities. Many individuals felt isolated and disconnected during the pandemic and experienced disrupted routines that significantly affected their mental health.

As the world continues to shift into a “new normal” and a new version of routine after the pandemic, many people with intellectual or developmental disabilities are experiencing anxiety or depression because their world continually changes.

“I think coming back into the community after the pandemic, people realize that they’re not okay and need additional support, which I hope to help them get,” Frank says.

Since taking on her role as the Assistant Director, Frank has become very active within the Supported Independent Living community. She’s made multiple social visits and intends to meet each person in her program and ensure they receive the proper support.

One of her favorite parts of the job is reconnecting with old friends she met at the beginning of her career with KenCrest.

“This department has a family feel to it,” says Frank. “We used to have a lot of parties and get-togethers, and I am excited to get back to that, hopefully, and to create more of those familial connections.”

Do you have or know someone with an IDD or autism diagnosis looking to live on their own? Click the link below to learn more about the program and how to submit a referral.