For the past eight years a group of three kids have lived with each other in a group home for children with Autism run by Pioneer Center for Human Services. They grew as a family unit and came to rely on one another as integral components in each other’s lives.
Now the children are all young adults and one of them is turning 22 this December. And at that time, his State funding that ensured his place in the home will end. In the eyes of the State he will now be considered an adult and will no longer able to remain with his pseudo-family.
Knowing that these young adults have grown and bonded together through their common struggles and triumphs, Pioneer Center set a course, months ago, to find a new house to become its adult Autism group home where they can continue to live and grow together.
This search reached its completion earlier in the week with the closing on a beautiful home in the Village of Lakewood.
“We are so pleased and proud to welcome our newest neighbors to the Village of Lakewood – residents of the home on Huntley Avenue recently purchased by the Pioneer Center,” said President Erin Smith.
“This type of small group home for autistic adults represents a much needed continuum of care for our special needs residents,” she added, “and we applaud the Pioneer Center for its leadership in this area. We look forward to future opportunities to partner with organizations to provide group homes and employment opportunities for special needs citizens.”
The transition to the new house will be a slow one. Each child relies on routine and will need to become acquainted with the house and have time to adjust to the new home.
“Our goal is to disturb their routine as little as possible. We want them to feel that this new house is a safe and welcoming home,” said Christine Kane, Program Coordinator with Pioneer Center.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1 in 50 children are diagnosed with Autism each year. In McHenry County it is estimated that more than 800 children, diagnosed with Autism, will age-out of school systems in the coming several years. These rapidly growing numbers highlight the urgent need for additional child and adult Autism services including group homes.
“Pioneer Center understands the immediate and urgent need to expand services for people with Autism in our community,” said Sam Tenuto, Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Programs at Pioneer Center. “Our new community integrated living arrangement (CILA) in Lakewood is one important step towards our goal to help meet this need. We welcome the opportunity to serve in Lakewood, and fully participate in the community.”