CAI History

Community Alternatives, Inc. (CAI) was founded in 1980 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation to provide supported employment opportunities to adults with emotional and physical disabilities in Virginia Beach, Virginia. As the need for services in the Virginia Beach area grew, CAI began to expand its programming to serve children and adults with intellectual disabilities and other developmental disabilities. CAI quickly emerged as a regional leader advocating for a continuum of community based services for children and adults with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, and co-occurring mental health and substance abuse needs.

These efforts resulted in the development of residential services for adults with physical and developmental disabilities in 1983, vocational programming 1983, an in-home and supported living training program in 1992, day support programs in 1993, and residential services for severe and persistently mentally ill adults in 2000.

In 1988, a separate not-for-profit company, Community Alternatives Management Group, Inc. (CAMG) was established to provide affordable housing for homeless adults with disabilities and to provide for management of all of the company properties. Shortly thereafter, CAMG began to deliver Supported Housing Services to homeless adults with disabilities to assist in the transition from homelessness to permanent housing.

Growth & New Services

Community Alternatives, Inc. has been a leader in the field of vocational services, job placement and job development for individuals with disabilities. CAI assumed control of a small sheltered workshop known as the Vocational Center in 1989. The program, now known as Beach Packaging, is a Sheltered Employment Program specializing in packaging and sub-assembly. This program has major contracts with Stihl and other manufacturers. Services now provided at this site include behavior management, skill assessment, job training and development and pre-vocational services. CAI also has also managed private and government work contracts, at one point employing over 300 workers and maintaining a ration of over 75% disabled workers. CAI’s partnership with NISH & the Department of Defense brought new Ability One contracts and meaningful employment to even more disabled workers.

Partnerships & Collaboration

Collaboration with local mental health agencies (known as Community Service Boards in Virginia and Licensed Management Entities in North Carolina) along with many other health and human service organizations and charitable groups made it possible for CAI to build a strong continuum of community based services. CAI plans to continue its mission of working with public organizations and local communities to provide person centered services to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Geographic Expansion

In a collaborative partnership in 2004, CAI began providing case management to children and adolescents with mental health and substance abuse problems in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. In 2005, CAI was awarded the CASCADE Services Program to provide an integrated continuum of services for substance abusing pregnant and parenting women in Mecklenburg County. In 2006, CAI expanded these services in Durham and Winston-Salem, NC.

A History of Service

For over three decades, Community Alternatives, Inc. has offered person-centered services to families, children and adults. Through our nationally accredited (CARF) service operations we provide quality care to individuals with severe disabilities including intellectual disabilities, mental illness, physical disabilities and substance abuse issues. It is our commitment to build on our years of service and to be a stable, reliable organization for those that rely on us.

Our Mission

The mission of Community Alternatives is to provide responsive, person-centered services to improve the quality of life for individuals with mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability needs.

Company Values

  • Our primary customer is the consumer
  • We ensure consumers have easy access to our services
  • We make certain each consumer understands their rights and responsibilities and has access to prompt and fair problem resolution
  • We guarantee each consumer the opportunity to participate in planning for their individualized services and supports
  • We offer consumers opportunities for individual growth and choices about how to best reach their personal goals
  • We offer consumers the opportunity to participate in program evaluation and quality management
  • We use collaboration as the cornerstone of our service delivery system to involve all providers, family members and identified community partners in building and implementing a successful plan
  • We honor cultural, family and individual values and work to apply best practice models with these values in mind
  • We use outcome information to continually improve our service delivery system

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