Joining Forces to Create a Strong Continuum of Support | Pony Bird & NextStep for Life

Merging to provide more resources and a greater scope of services for our communities and fulfill a stronger mission. Learn more about the merger below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Browse our FAQs to learn specifics about the merger.

Why is the merger happening?

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What will I learn from this page?

This page is a resource for staff, leadership, families and community partners to answer questions, find updates and follow along as we start transitioning to the new Pony Bird, Inc.

About Pony Bird

About NextStep for Life

Who will lead the new organization?

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What will be the name of the new organization?

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Will there be any staffing changes that might affect the individuals served?

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What support will staff receive in order to be successful?

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Will work culture or processes change?

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If I am a staff member, will I have to work in another department?

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How will the merger impact employees?

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How will the community benefit from this merger?

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Will the merger create new jobs for the community?

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Will Pony Bird and NextStep for Life continue to participate in and contribute to community activities/charities/civic events at the same level?

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Will there be any changes to facilities as a result of the merger?

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What programs will be available following the merger?

Will there be a new Board of Directors?

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Will the number of people served increase or decrease?

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What does the timeline look like? What happens next?

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Who should we contact if we have questions?

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Have questions?

We encourage you to reach out for any additional questions that weren’t covered in our FAQs. Our team looks forward to hearing from you!

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Named after a children’s book, Pony Bird was established in 1977 by Dana and Sue Hockensmith for their son Philip. Initially, the organization served 10 children with significant disabilities. With the encouragement of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Pony Bird went through several expansions to become the organization it is today.

Pony Bird now provides 24-hour care for up to 85 individuals with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities who are non-ambulatory and medically fragile. Our support programs include: community living resources, community integration and education, day programs, therapies (including speech, physical, and occupational), 24/7 medical support, and respite.

After the Jefferson County Developmental Disabilities Resource Board (JCDDRB) was established in 1978, the first service provider for people with developmental disabilities in Jefferson County was created by the name of “Exceptional Ones, Inc.” In August 2010, NextStep for Life became the official name. 

Today, NextStep for Life provides an array of services to assist more than 1,000 individuals with disabilities to live fulfilled lives. Our support programs focus on five service areas: Community Supports, Employment, Family Supports, Leisure and Residential. 

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