More than 150 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who currently work at Pioneer Industries, a sheltered workshop at Pioneer Center for Human Services, will be afforded the opportunity to more effectively achieve their full potential through Pioneer Center’s new community-based programming. Pioneer Center announced Thursday that they will be closing Pioneer Industries on December 31, 2015.
“We are both saddened and excited to announce this shift in services,” says Jackie Wells, President and CEO of Pioneer Center, “While the closure is bittersweet, people with disabilities deserve opportunities to work alongside their friends, peers and neighbors without disabilities. Pioneer Center has a responsibility to its clients to offer every tool and resource to achieve this outcome—empowering them to achieve their full potential.”
Pioneer Center’s decision to close Pioneer Industries is in alignment with their continued commitment to provide community-based opportunities for people with disabilities. Pioneer Center is also responding to a rule change from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The new regulation changes the way services are provided to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and are aimed at ensuring individuals are living, working and spending their time in community-based settings—as opposed to sheltered workshops and settings that isolate. The new rule states that people with disabilities must be provided services in a more integrated setting.
“Although bittersweet, the closure of Pioneer Industries and the introduction of a new, community-based vocational program opens a whole new world of opportunities for our clients,” says DJ Newport, Director of Vocational and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Day Services, “We have been preparing for this transition over the past five months by making strategic, focused changes to the program that meet the requirements.”
Changes to Pioneer Center’s Intellectual and Developmental Disability Program include:
- Doubling the number of community-based outing opportunities,
- Enhancing the vocational program to include classroom and community based opportunities
- Forging relationships with five McHenry non-profits who welcome our clients as volunteers,
- Rebuilding our computer lab as a training center offering classes for anyone interested,
- Hiring staff specifically for programming,
- Increasing the capacity of our health and wellness programming offered on a daily basis, and
- Developing new daily programming such as yoga, arts and cooking as well as increasing capacity for popular daily programming already occurring.
In addition to these changes, in the coming months Pioneer Center will be adding options including:
- Life skills training with a simulated apartment, cooking classes, community access training and general safety training,
- A new, larger fitness area with exercise, yoga and cardio classes that will interact with our current health and wellness programming, and
- An additional classroom/instructional based program.
Additional changes to the services delivery methods for the day and vocational programming will continue to roll out over the coming months in an effort to meet the mandated changes enacted by CMS and ensure our services are offered in the least restrictive environment. Pioneer Center is dedicated to setting the tone for the entire State of Illinois and creating a best practice model around community-based, inclusive programming for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The CMS rule makes the programming changes like this inevitable,” says Wells, “By doing this now, Pioneer Center can gradually implement redesigned, innovative and individualized services for our clients that sets the standard for other human service organizations.”