Parents of young adults with special needs want state to reopen adult programs

Finding a routine for young adults with special needs is critical in their daily lives. But this need has become much more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many adult programs on hold.
Dan Osbourne, 22, is too old to go to special education classes in school. Instead, he is enrolled at an adult center - a center that is now closed.
“These adult programs are a way of our young adults functioning. They’ve gotten on minivans since they were 3 years old. They know no other way to live their life without structure,” says Osbourne’s mother Vicki Eisen.
The adult centers have been closed for most of the pandemic and only operated for six weeks last fall.
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“My heart breaks for the young adults and their parents,” says Kathy DeMarco, founder of Minding Miracles in Port Monmouth.
DeMarco has decades of experience placing young adults in programs that they need.
“When you have autism, you have become very inside of an obsessive-compulsive need of saneness,” she says. “They need to be out in society becomes part of society itself.”
New Jersey’s COVID-19 Activity Level Index remains too high for most of these centers to reopen. The parents say that they want the same rules to apply to special education classrooms, which have remained open since September.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services says the health and safety of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is paramount, and all decisions regarding closure and reopening of congregate day programs are guided by data and improvements in public health.