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NWSRA participant playing drums

NWSRA Program Fee Changes

Thank you for your ongoing participation in NWSRA programs!  We appreciate the enthusiasm of our participants and families throughout the year, and look forward to more achievements and memories to come!  NWSRA has heard several concerns regarding the increase in pricing for programs, and would like to take this opportunity to provide background and reasoning for fee changes.

Background- NWSRA Strategic Planning

In 2016, a variety of NWSRA Staff, Board Members and general stakeholders worked collaboratively to develop a five-year Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Association.  This plan set the Mission, Vision, Core Values and Pillars of the Association and from there, Focuses and Goals were developed.  Through surveys, focus groups, and review sessions, NWSRA staff received outstanding feedback from families and stakeholders related to programs, including:

  • Analysis of gaps in programming (dates, times, locations, ages and disabilities served)

  • Provide more programming that meets the unique needs of individuals (social vs. competitive, age groups within programs, individualized training, etc.)

  • Expansion of high-quality programming to meet the unique needs of individuals with disabilities

  • Increased communication on the costs of programs that determine fees.

NWSRA Funding

NWSRA is primarily funded through Member Park District Assessments, which are capped at a 2% increase or decrease from year to year, depending on the Equalized Assessed Values (EAV’s) in Park District communities as well as gross population reported by Park Districts from year to year.  At the same time, costs continue to rise, as the Social Security Administration reported that the Cost of Living Adjustment ("COLA") for 2018 is 2%.  The rest of NWSRA’s agency budget is primarily comprised of program-related fees and support from Special Leisure Services Foundation (SLSF), which provides scholarship funding for families who are unable to afford the cost of programs.

Program Development Committee

Upon implementation of the Strategic Plan and a thorough review of financial capacity to implement suggested changes, a Program Development Committee was formed.  The Committee was comprised of the two Superintendents of Recreation as well as the Managers from various Departments within NWSRA, to accomplish the following:

  • Identification of programming needs

  • Ensure that new programs and services offered by NWSRA contribute to the organization’s Mission & Vision

  • Assist in creating, researching and initiating new programs

  • Develop program ideas and proposals as needed

  • Compare the fee structure for NWSRA programs with other area agencies and park districts

  • Create a balance between revenue- generating, break even and subsidized programs


Through these efforts, the Program Development Committee continues to maximize sustainability of programs while providing affordability for families.

Ensuring Sustainability and Accountability

In order to ensure long-term sustainability of NWSRA programs and services, a measured approach to determining program fees has been implemented: 

  • Families indicated within the Strategic Plan a strong need for expansion of high-quality programming to meet the unique needs of individuals with disabilities.

  • A need for more diverse programming options to meet the needs of growing populations:

    • Individuals with Autism

    • Individuals who are transitioning out of High School

    • Individuals with multiple needs

    • Early childhood

    • Seniors

  • Analysis and comparison of competitors' pricing while keeping programs affordable

  • NWSRA program-related costs continue to rise, including staff costs, transportation, facilities, supplies, equipment and more.


NWSRA keeps program-related costs to a minimum through a variety of strategies, including obtaining multiple quotes for supplies, negotiating costs and finding alternative solutions. 

NWSRA participants making friends at program

Changing the Game

As the needs of the community have been heard, NWSRA celebrates the accomplishments to date that have ensured more access to necessary recreational programs and services:

  • Opening of regional programming sites in Rolling Meadows, Hanover Park and Mt. Prospect to ensure that families are closer geographically to NWSRA programming

  • Operating and maintaining a fleet of 21 accessible vehicles to ensure that anyone, with any type of disability, can access NWSRA programs

  • Opening of the innovative Snoezelen Sensory Rooms in Rolling Meadows and Hanover Park to meet the sensory needs of clients

  • Continued expansion of the PURSUIT Adult Day program

  • Overhaul of programs and services to be more goal-driven, enabling participants and families to choose programs and services that meet their unique needs

  • Hiring staff who are certified.  Many NWSRA staff present on topics related to Therapeutic Recreation on local, regional and national levels.

  • Implementation of new website, social media and online tools to foster enhanced communication between families and stakeholders

NWSRA looks forward to the continued use of stakeholder feedback to provide strategic direction that will result in enhanced recreational opportunities for children and adults with disabilities.

NWSRA staff photo

NWSRA Scholarships

NWSRA wants to ensure that every family has the opportunity to participate in NWSRA programs and services. For those families who are in financial need, NWSRA provides scholarships through funds raised by Special Leisure Services Foundation (SLSF).  There is a continued need for donors and support toward Special Leisure Services Foundation (SLSF) to ensure that any family in financial need will continue to have access to scholarships.

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