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Agency Name: Easter Seals Southwest Florida, Inc. (ESSWFL)

I. Plan Statement

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. Specifically, Title VI provides that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” (42 U.S.C. Section 2000d).
Easter Seals Southwest Florida is committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of its transit services on the basis of race, color, or national origin, as protected by Title VI in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Circular 4702.1.A.

This plan was developed to guide the ESSWFL in its administration and management of Title VI-related activities.

Title VI Coordinator Contact Information:
Linda Poteat – Brown
Vice President of Human Resources and Safety Director
Easter Seals Southwest Florida
350 Braden Avenue
Sarasota, Florida 34243
Ph. 941-355-7637.
Email: lpoteat-brown@easterseals-swfl.org

II. Title VI Information Dissemination

Title VI information posters shall be prominently and publicly displayed in the ESSWFL facility and on their vehicles. The name of the Title VI coordinator is available on the ESSWFL website, at www.Easterseals-SWFL.org. Additional information relating to nondiscrimination obligation can be obtained from the ESSWFL Title VI Coordinator.
Title VI information shall be disseminated to ESSWFL employees annually via email. This email reminds employees of the ESSWFL policy statement, and of their Title VI responsibilities in their daily work and duties.
During New Employee Orientation, new employees shall be informed of the provisions of Title VI, and the ESSWFL expectations to perform their duties accordingly.
All employees shall be provided a copy of the Title VI Plan and are required to sign the Acknowledgement of Receipt.

III. Subcontracts and Vendors

All subcontractors and vendors who receive payments from ESSWFL where funding originates from any federal assistance are subject to the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended.
Written contracts shall contain non-discrimination language, either directly or through the bid specification package which becomes an associated component of the contract.

IV. Record Keeping

The Title VI Coordinator will maintain permanent records, which include, but are not limited to, signed acknowledgements of receipt from the employees indicating the receipt of the of ESSWFL Title VI Plan, copies of Title VI complaints or lawsuits and related documentation, and records of correspondence to and from complainants, and Title VI investigations.

V. Title VI Complaint Procedures

How to file a Title VI Complaint?

Verbal and non-verbal written complaints shall be resolved informally by the ESSWFL Title VI/Nondiscrimination administrator, Linda Poteat-Brown. The complainant may file a complaint up to one hundred and eighty (180) days from the date of the alleged discrimination. If written, the complaint should include the following information:

The Title VI Complaint Form may be used to submit the complaint information. The complaint may be filed in writing with ESSWFL at the following address:

Easter Seals Southwest Florida
350 Braden Ave.
Sarasota, Florida 34243

What happens to the complaint after it is submitted?

All complaints alleging discrimination based on race, color or national origin in a service or benefit provided by ESSWFL will be directly addressed by the ESSWFL. ESSWFL shall also provide appropriate assistance to complainants, including those persons with disabilities, or who are limited in their ability to communicate in English. Additionally, ESSWFL shall make every effort to address all complaints in an expeditious and thorough manner.

A letter of acknowledging receipt of the complaint will be mailed within seven days. Please note that in responding to any requests for additional information, a complainant’s failure to provide the requested information may result in the administrative closure of the complaint.

How will the complainant be notified of the outcome of the complaint?

ESSWFL will send a final written response letter to the complainant and/or their authorized representative. In the letter notifying complainant that the complaint is not substantiated, the complainant is also advised of his or her right to 1) appeal within seven calendar days of receipt of the final written decision from ESSWFL, and/or 2) file a complaint externally with the U.S. Department of Transportation and/or the FTA. Every effort will be made to respond to Title VI complaints within 60 working days of receipt of such complaints, if not sooner.

Once sufficient information for investigating the complaint is received by ESSWFL, a written response will be drafted subject to review by the Easter Seals’ attorney. If appropriate, the ESSWFL attorney may administratively close the complaint. In this case, ESSWFL will notify the complainant of the action as soon as possible.

In addition to the complaint process described above, a complainant may file a Title VI Complaint with the following offices:

Local Coordinating Board (LCB)
7632 15th Street E
Sarasota, Florida 34243

Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights
Attention: Title VI Program Coordinator
East Building, 5th Floor – TCR
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, DC 20590

VI. Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan

The number of LEP clients using the ESSWFL buses is very low or at times non-existent because the stability of our client population. The majority of language issues are due to developmental delay. ESSWFL plan presently is to discuss any incidents with parent/caretakers and social workers should a Title VI violation become an issue.

VII. Community Outreach

Community Outreach is a requirement of Title VI. ESSWFL seeks out and considers the viewpoints of minority and low-income populations in the course of conducting its business. ESSWFL discusses busing plans and program options when service is commenced and at regular review of IEP with its Service Coordinator Jeanine Buzbee. ESSWFL buses are not open to the general public.

Appendix A – Employee Annual Education Form
Title VI Policy
No person shall, on the grounds of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
All employees of the ESSWFL are expected to consider, respect, and observe this policy in their daily work and duties. If a citizen approaches you with a question or complaint, direct him or her to Linda Poteat-Brown.
In all dealings with citizens, use courtesy titles (i.e. Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss) to address them without regard to race, color or national origin.

Appendix B – Acknowledgement of Receipt of Title VI Plan
I hereby acknowledge the receipt of the ESSWFL’s Title VI Plan. I have read the plan and am committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of its transit services on the basis of race, color, or national origin, as protected by Title VI in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Circular 4702.1
Your signature
Print your name
Date

Appendix C – TITLE VI COMPLAINT FORM
Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act requires that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” If you feel you have been discriminated against in transit services, please provide the following information in order to assist us in processing your complaint and sent it to:

Easter Seals Southwest Florida
350 Braden Avenue
Sarasota, Florida 34243
Please print clearly: Name:
Address:
City, State, Zip Code:
Telephone Number:
(home)
(cell)
(message)

Person discriminated against:
Address of person discriminated against:
City, State, Zip Code:

Please indicate why you believe the discrimination occurred:

What was the date of the alleged discrimination?

Where did the alleged discrimination take place?

Please describe the circumstances as you saw it:

Please list any and all witnesses’ names and phone numbers:

What type of corrective action would you like to see taken?

Please attach any documents you have which support the allegation. Then date and sign this form and send to the Title VI Coordinator at:

Linda Poteat -Brown
Easter Seals Southwest Florida
355 Braden Ave.
Sarasota, Florida 34243
or via email to lpoteat-brown@easterseals-swfl.org
Ph. 941-355-7637
Your signature
Print your name
Date

APPENDIX D – Letter Acknowledging Receipt of Complaint
Today’s Date
Ms. Jo Doe
1234 Main St.
Clarksville, Tennessee 37040
Dear Ms. Doe:
This letter is to acknowledge receipt of your complaint against the ESSWFL alleging .
An investigation will begin shortly. If you have additional information you wish to convey or questions concerning this matter, please feel free to contact this office by telephoning 269.273.7808, or write to me at this address.
Easter Seals Southwest Florida
350 Braden Avenue
Sarasota, Florida 34234
Sincerely,
Linda Poteat -Brown
Title VI Coordinator

APPENDIX E – Letter Notifying Complainant that the Complaint Is Substantiated
Today’s Date
Ms. Jo Doe
1234 Main St.
Clarksville, Tennessee 37040
Dear Ms. Doe:
The matter referenced in your letter of alleging Title VI violation has been investigated.
(date) against the ESSWFL
(An/Several) apparent violation(s) of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including those mentioned in your letter (was/were) identified. Efforts are underway to correct these deficiencies.
Thank you for calling this important matter to our attention. You were extremely helpful during our review of the program. (If a hearing is requested, the following sentence may be appropriate.) You may be hearing from this office, or from federal authorities, if your services should be needed during the administrative hearing process.
Sincerely,
Title VI Coordinator

APPENDIX F – Letter Notifying Complainant that the Complaint Is Not Substantiated
Today’s Date
Ms. Jo Doe
1234 Main St.
Clarksville, Tennessee 37040
Dear Ms. Doe:
The matter referenced in your complaint of alleging (date) against the ESSWFL has been investigated.
The results of the investigation did not indicate that the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had in fact been violated. As you know, Title VI prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in any program receiving federal financial assistance.
The ESSWFL has analyzed the materials and facts pertaining to your case for evidence of the city’s failure to comply with any of the civil rights laws. There was no evidence found that any of these laws have been violated.
I, therefore, advise you that your complaint has not been substantiated and that I am closing this matter in our files.
You have the right to 1) appeal within seven calendar days of receipt of this final written decision from ESSWFL, and/or 2) file a complaint externally with the U.S. Department of Transportation and/or the Federal Transit Administration at
Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights
Attention: Title VI Program Coordinator
East Building, 5th Floor – TCR
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, DC 20590
Thank you for taking the time to contact us. If I can be of assistance to you in the future, do not hesitate to call me.
Sincerely,
Title VI Coordinator

APPENDIX G – Samples of Narrative to be included in Posters to be Displayed in Vehicles and Facilities
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. Specifically, Title VI provides that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” (42 U.S.C. Section 2000d).
Easter Seals Southwest Florida is committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of its transit services on the basis of race, color, or national origin, as protected by Title VI in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Circular 4702.1.A. If you feel you are being denied participation in or being denied benefits of the transit services provided by ESSWFL, or otherwise being discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability, you may contact our office at 350 Braden Ave. Sarasota, FL 34243; 941-355-7637

Notifying the Public of Rights Under Title VI
Easter Seals operates its programs and services without regard to race, color, and national origin in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Any person who believes she or he has been aggrieved by any unlawful discriminatory practice under Title VI may file a complaint with Easter Seals.

For more information on Easter Seals’ civil rights program, and the procedures to file a complaint, contact 941-355-7637, (TTY 800-807-7899);
Email: lpoteat-brown@easterseals-swfl.org; or visit our administrative office at 350 Braden Ave., Sarasota, FL 34243
For more information, visit www.easterseals-swfl.org
If information is needed in another language, contact 941-355-7637
Linda Poteat-Brown
Vice President of Human Resources and Title VI Director
Easter Seals Southwest Florida
350 Braden Avenue
Sarasota, Florida 34243
Ph. 941.355.7637

Hippotherapy

Easterseals Southwest Florida is proud offer therapy and horseback riding services at InStride Ranch, a beautiful 62-acre therapy facility in Nokomis, Florida to deliver Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), and Speech Therapy. Additionally, InStride also offers Therapeutic Riding and Equine-Assisted Learning Programs. Our horseback riding program offers the ability for riders ages 7 and up to learn Classical Horsemanship and Classical Dressage.

To learn more about hippotherapy with Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

Mental Health

Through partnerships with Samaritan Counseling Services, Telement Therapy and The Florida Center, the Easterseals Southwest Florida mental health program provides services to many of the clients we serve throughout the agency.

  • Samaritan Counseling provides counseling to identified students in our K-12 academy. Services include direct weekly counseling, classroom observations and consultation, and support to parents and families. Students are referred by families or staff members.
  • Telement Therapy is available for caregiver coaching sessions with clients and families and wellness checks to Easterseals’ staff members. All sessions are confidential.
  • The Florida Center provides a full-time staff counselor on staff in the Lily Preschool to provide ongoing support to the children and families that are in need due to trauma, emotional support to children and classroom support.
  • Easterseals Southwest Florida provides counseling services to veterans and first responders who need support.


To learn more about the mental health services at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

 

Case Management

Our case management office consists of two case managers who represent the agency as a whole. They are the first point of contact for the programs listed below. One of the case managers is bilingual, so we can help the Hispanic community navigate the process of getting support for their families.

  • The Diagnostic Clinic – Manage the assessment process and schedules for the psychologists.
  • Clinical Therapy – Assist in obtaining needed information for clients and managing the clinical waitlist.
  • Lily Preschool – Connect new families for enrollment as well as other services as needed, such as clinical, diagnostics and play project.
  • Easterseals Academy – Intake for prospective families, assisting with enrollment and scholarship applications, and other services as needed.
  • Adult Enrichment- Assist families with APD applications, diagnostic needs, and making connections with outside resources.
  • Digital Navigation – Help families obtain internet access, computers and training at a discounted price
  • Unite Us and Whole Child Network – Utilize these resources to assist families in finding services in our community.
  • Community Outreach -Connect with various agencies within the community to provide families with the support they need. Needs may include food, clothing, electric and utilities, housing and educational advocacy.


For more information on Case Management at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637 x 418 and x 430.

 

Play Project

This program supports all parents in developing a joyous, mutually beneficial relationship with their children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a way that will help each child reach his/her full potential.

  • Children, including children with autism, learn best through play in the natural environment of the home
  • Classes take place in the home 90% of the time, but can also be done in a classroom setting through TEACH Play
  • Students are engaged in a playful way to promote his/her development


To learn more information about the Play Project at Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Respite

Our respite programs create temporary relief for families or caregivers by providing a safe environment where kids have time to be kids and parents/caregivers have time to be independent adults.

This family strengthening program provides a lifeline to parents of medically fragile and/or special needs children. Each family has access to up to 16 hours of care for ALL their children – and even the pets!

In addition to in-home care, we also provide a bi-monthly “Kids Night Out” and “Adults Night Out” event, where families can get some much-needed rest while their children enjoy themed, educational activities right here at Easterseals Southwest Florida. We provide this monthly event with the help of our many treasured community partners.

Our services for families include:

In-Home Respite

Center-Based Respite

To learn more about respite at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy helps people participate in their desired occupations with the therapeutic use of everyday activities, based on the client’s personal interests and needs. Following an initial evaluation, our occupational therapy practitioners can promote independence in areas such as self-care, work, school and play.

Occupational Therapy is used to:

  • Improve sensory processing
  • Develop play skills and leisure interests
  • Improve muscle strength and range of motion
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Increase independence through adaptive devices

Services may be provided on-site at Happiness House, in an outpatient clinic, at a child development center or adult day program, as well as at home, at school and in a variety of other care settings.

To learn more or to begin occupational therapy services, call 941.355.7637.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy services focus on preserving, developing, and restoring physical function that may have been lost due to injury, disease, aging, or congenital abnormality. Based on an initial assessment, our licensed physical therapists incorporate therapeutic exercise and physical agents to encourage independence at work, home, school, and in the community by:

  • Encouraging motor development
  • Improving functional mobility or the ability to move (including bed mobility/transfers and walking)
  • Increasing range of motion (flexibility) and strength
  • Promoting tissue (wound) healing
  • Decreasing pain and swelling
  • Incorporating safety, prevention, and education
  • Promoting fitness and health

Services may be provided on-site at Happiness House, in an outpatient clinic, at a child development center or adult day program, as well as at home, at school, and in a variety of other care settings. State and federal laws determine referral requirements and funding opportunities.

To learn more or to begin your physical therapy process at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

Speech Therapy

Speech-language pathologists, also called SLPs, are experts in communication. SLPs work with people of all ages, from babies to adults, and treat many types of communication and swallowing problems. These include problems with:

Speech Sounds—How we say sounds and put sounds together into words. 

Language—How well we understand what we hear or read and how we use words to tell others what we are thinking. In adults this problem may be called aphasia.

Literacy—People with speech and language disorders may also have trouble reading, spelling and writing.

Social Communication—How well we follow rules, like taking turns, how to talk to different people, or how close to stand to someone when talking. This is also called pragmatics.

Voice—How our voices sound. We may sound hoarse, lose our voices easily, talk too loudly or through our noses, or be unable to make sounds.

Fluency—Also called stuttering, is how well speech flows. Someone who stutters may repeat sounds, use “um” or “uh,” or pause a lot when talking. Many young children will go through a time when they stutter, but most outgrow it.

Feeding and Swallowing—How well we suck, chew and swallow food and liquid. A swallowing disorder may lead to poor nutrition, weight loss and other health problems. This is also called dysphagia.

To learn more about speech therapy at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

 

Behavioral Therapy

Our behavior therapy team collaborates with caregivers, teachers and parents to make learning fun and engaging, while also promoting growth and positive development. Interventions are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and are aimed at increasing the individual’s language, learning, and independence. We also help them overcome challenging behaviors by teaching alternatives and increasing flexibility, which leads to better results and happier people!

Goals often seen in plans include: 

  • Increasing requests for things the person wants  
  • Sharing with peers/playing appropriately with peers 
  • Toilet training 
  • Decreasing challenging behaviors  
  • And so much more that are based on the person’s needs! 

To learn more about behavioral therapies at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive treatment that encourages the brain to develop healthier patterns of activity. As a part of their initiative, the Brain Wave Center provides neurofeedback training to the students who attend Lily Preschool. The majority of the children who are positively impacted by neurofeedback meet the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The primary goal of partnering with The Brain Wave Center is to help as many children with disabilities as possible using neurofeedback. The Brain Wave Center is also developing a research project to further prove the effectiveness of neurofeedback with children, as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

To learn more about neurofeedback at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

Transportation

We provide daily transportation for students of Easterseals Academy and those who participate in our Adult Enrichment program. We also help with transportation to field trips, employment programs, community-based instruction, job training, volunteer services, and recreational activities.

To learn more about transportation services with Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

Employment

Easterseals Southwest Florida Employment Services is committed to helping people with disabilities find meaningful careers. In conjunction with the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, we provide career exploration, job coaching, and supported employment services to high school students attending Easterseals Academy, adults attending Life Skills Development, and community members with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

To learn more about employment services at Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Operation1Stride  

The goal of Operation1Stride is to provide a safe environment for all participants to learn basic horsemanship skills and to promote a general well-being. The program incorporates a classroom and controlled, direct interactions with horses to develop and broaden participants’ horsemanship skills and knowledge.

Participants will experience a variety of emotional benefits:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • An increase in confidence
  • Enhanced relationship skills
  • Improved ability to trust others
  • Restoration and revitalization of their physical and emotional being


Program curriculum covers equine behavior, observation skills, grooming, handling and leading horses.

To learn more about Operation1Stride, call 941.355.7637.

 

Equine-Assisted Learning

Studies have shown that interacting with horses can positively affect a participant’s:  

  • Decision-making and problem-solving skills 
  • Creative thinking and critical thinking skills 
  • Communication and interpersonal skills 
  • Self-awareness and empathy 
  • Ability to cope with emotions and cope with stress 
  • Feeling of empowerment 
  • Ability to develop healthy connections with others

Individual and group sessions are available.
 
 
To learn more about equine-assisted learning with Easterseals, call 941.355.7637.

Victory Garden 

The Victory Garden is an organically operated garden of raised vegetable beds, pollinator beds, and various fruit trees. The goal of the garden is to provide a peaceful natural environment while promoting self-reliance, sustainability skills development and social connections that foster overall healing and wellness. This is a place where people of all ages and skill levels can learn to grow and care for plants.

As an instructional garden, Easterseals Victory Garden is a place to learn new skills like how to amend the soil and add nutrients to the beds, how to plant seedlings and direct sowing beds, plant spacing, watering and companion planting. It also focuses on keeping the garden going, addressing pruning, fertilizing, pest management, staggered planting/seeding and harvesting.

Along with learning new skills, the Victory Garden provides a range of health benefits:

Along with learning new skills, the Victory Garden provides a range of health benefits:

  • Builds self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves mood, diet and cardiovascular health
  • Increases hand-eye coordination and mental acuity


To learn more about the Victory Garden at Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is an immersive and interactive training therapy modality that Easterseals clients use to improve work skills, social and communication skills, hand-eye coordination and on task behavior. Other uses include calming and refocusing environments that when utilized, help our clients to reduce anxiety and focus on their other therapies and training.  

Virtual Reality is available to our Adult Enrichment Program participants and Easterseals Upper Academy students. The technology is used as a tool to help our neurodiverse clients safely experience new environments and practice new skills that will then allow them to enter a job or new experience with much less anxiety and much better prepared to succeed.  

To learn more about virtual reality with Easterseals Southwest Florida, call 941.355.7637.

Lily Preschool

The Lily School for Child Development is a licensed, inclusive early childhood and education program recognized for children 6 weeks to 5 years old. The Lily School utilizes the Creative Curriculum as the foundation of a developmentally appropriate, interactive learning environment that promotes the success of each child by:

  • Building healthy and positive self-concepts
  • Providing opportunities to think, reason, question, and experiment
  • Stimulating individual imagination, creativity, and sense of discovery
  • Promoting language development encouraging sound health
  • Safety, and nutritional habits
  • Respecting cultural diversity

 

To learn more call 941.355.7637

Easterseals Academy

Easterseals Academy provides exceptional services for students with disabilities and their families across a lifetime by empowering individuals to live their lives to the fullest.

Easterseals Academy specializes in serving Manatee and Sarasota County students, through age 22, who are challenged by developmental, physical, learning and mild behavioral disabilities, as well as autism.

Your child’s education experience will be enriched with art, music, performing arts, Spanish, yoga, organic agriculture, nutrition and movement. Our students’ wellbeing is balanced with PT-OT-speech-equine therapies including behavioral and neurofeedback as well as family support. More than special, your child is exceptional and our individualized education plans help to ensure that their progress shines brightly.

To learn more call 941.355.7637

Equine-Assisted Services

Equine-Assisted Services are therapy sessions guided by a Licensed Mental Health Therapist that is certified as PATH Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Participants will initially meet with the therapist for an individual evaluation to develop personalized goals for treatment. The number of sessions will be determined by individual needs. 

Individual and group sessions are available.

To learn more about equine-assisted services with Easterseals, call 941.355.7637.

Autism (ASD) Support Services

The Diagnostic Clinic at Easterseals Southwest Florida provides comprehensive diagnostic evaluations (CDE) to clients aged two through adulthood. We have two licensed clinical psychologists on staff who are qualified to diagnose autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and any disorder listed in the DSM-5. These evaluations equip parents, teachers, and caregivers with the necessary tools to address the varied needs of the clients we serve.

  • Insurance companies require a CDE to approve needed behavioral therapy services
  • Clients receive appropriate recommendations for school and other needed services
  • Doctors utilize the CDE report to provide needed medical intervention
  • Other social services can be made available with a proper diagnosis
  • A sliding fee scale is available to qualifying clients

To learn more about our ASD services, call 941.355.7637.