Mayor Liz Lempert and a host of local and state officials gathered for the opening celebration of the first YCS Sawtelle home for young adults with special needs in Princeton. The project was spearheaded by Barbara Schutt, a parent of one of the home’s residents, who wanted to keep her son in their hometown.
The spacious private home provides intensive behavioral interventions in home-like environments for young adults with acute developmental and intellectual disabilities (including autism spectrum disorders) and co-occurring behavioral. Residents have their own bedrooms, share family-style meals with staff and enjoy one-on-one and group recreational activities of their choosing. During the day individuals may attend a sheltered workshop or day Habilitation Program in the community where they can engage with friends, participate in a volunteer project or go on outings. Family members are encouraged to visit and participate in activities at the home and in the community.
The YCS Sawtelle Home is a collaboration between the Department of Affordable Housing, The NJ Home Mortgage Finance Company, the Division of Developmental Disabilities, and YCS, Inc.
ONE FATHER’S STORY
Kevin Carlin has been contemplating a permanent, loving, living situation for his son ever since he was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Named after his father, Kevin’s parents made sure he got the best special education and auxiliary services available for children. However, once he turned 21 and aged out of the state’s system of care, they worried about his future.
“Kevin has no siblings, and if anything happens to me or his mother, who would take care of him? Then there was the gnawing concern for his future when they passed on. According to Mr. Carlin, the Division of Developmental Disabilities has a long waiting list of thousands of adults with special needs who need a permanent home-like facility. So, when they inquired about a permanent home for Kevin and put his name on the list, they imagined they would be waiting many years.
Three years later, “Like a bolt out of the blue, the state called unexpectedly with a placement for Kevin,” said Mr. Carlin. There would be an opening in a new group home, in Princeton. The home for young adults with developmental disabilities is and operated by YCS Sawtelle Services – a non-profit social services and behavioral health agency.
Kevin, now 22, will share a home with three of his peers. He’ll participate in a day program and enjoy numerous social activities including, trips to the mall, parks, restaurants, bowling and more. “All of this allows us the luxury of observing him for a period of years before we depart this earth – secure in the belief that he is happy in a safe place,” said Mr. Carlin.
“Security for my special needs adult so…that’s my secret of happiness,” said Mr. Carlin.