Across the area, young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 with special needs and developmental disabilities have the chance to remain in local school districts as part of transition programs -- educational opportunities that teach independent living skills and allow participants to gain a myriad of both social and vocational skills.
But when these participants age out of local school programs, families are often left searching for similar programs where these adults can continue life-skills education and find a network of support as they continue to grow into their independence.
That's where Community Support Services (CSS) of Brookfield steps in, as they launch a new Brookfield day program this fall called Community 360-Brookfield.
For nearly 40 years, CSS has provided Brookfield-area children and adults with special needs the chance to live with independence and find a sense of personal fulfillment through dozens of life skills programs and recreational services.
With a tentative start date of Oct. 1, the new Brookfield day program will be held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., expanding upon the roughly 30 existing weekly classes provided in Brookfield.
Though CSS operates a similar day program out of its Cicero location, Necole Mills, vice president of community programs for CSS, said the organization's leadership has been talking for several months about answering a growing need for families in the Brookfield community who were looking for programming for the adults age 22 and over with special needs.
"This program is designed for adults who have completed high school, and are looking for that next step in life," she said.
Community360-Brookfield, which will be based out of the organization's CSS Academy at 3732 Grand Blvd., will offer adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities meaningful ways to spend their day. Activities will include structured volunteer work; art, music and dance classes, health and wellness classes; and lessons on developing job skills and job searching.
Aside from structured classes in Brookfield, the day program is also designed to allow participants to regularly engage in off-campus activities, including field trips to Chicagoland museums, volunteering at community nursing homes and support work at local libraries.
There are also networking opportunities through CSS liaison relationships with the Brookfield Public Library and the LaGrange Area Department of Special Education (LADSE).
"Our day program is designed to be flexible and create interaction with the general community," Mills said.
Instructors of the day program will not administer medication or help participants with restroom use, so Mills says individuals looking to participate should be physically capable of going out into the community with little to no assistance.
Community360-Brookfield is specifically designed for adults approved for developmental training funding through the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Individuals who are interested in the program without Medicaid waiver funding will have a daily activity fee of $61.
The day program has room for up to 30 participants, and those interested in registering their family members for the program must first fill out an intake application, which can be found on CSS' website at cssservices.org/intake.
"The program is not a drop-in service, so families have to commit," Mills said.
Mills said that through the addition of the day program, CSS wants families in the Brookfield area to know that they are here to meet the unique needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and have paid attention to feedback and requests from locals requesting a more in-depth, full-time program.
"[Local residents] want a community-based program where individuals are not just in a workshop — they want them to be out in the community working, volunteering, just being included," Mills said. "CSS is really hearing that, and we want to make sure that we are meeting those needs."
For more information about CSS programs, including Community360-Brookfield, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 708-354-4547, ext. 268.