A program under development in Marion County that will offer real-life job training for developmentally disabled teens and young adults brought interested parents to Marion Community Center ballroom Monday.
Two mothers who want options for their adult sons came to ask questions about Project SEARCH at a Harvey and Marion County Developmental Disability Organization board meeting.
Both sons completed schooling in Marion and then were transferred elsewhere. Gabriele Dye and Jane Wiens wanted to know if Project SEARCH is an option for their sons.
Dye, whose 27-year-old son has autism, asked how organizers will define “young adults.”
“He went through the school system and the educational system, and then there’s an abrupt good-bye, so to speak,” Dye said.
Dye recommended the definition of a young adult include people up to 30.
She also wanted to know if transportation will be part of the program.
“I’m now in a situation where I would have to provide transportation for any job training,” Dye said.
Wiens, whose son is 23, asked if the entire program would operate within Marion County.
“This is so valuable to parents who don’t want their kids to be bused out of Marion County,” Weins said.
Weins said her son has returned to the farm after living in a different county. Once they have graduated out of the system, there is nothing for them, Weins said.
“It is very safe for him, but I’m at the point where I want him to get a job,” Weins said.
Schmidt said perhaps Vocational Rehabilitation would be work in Weins’ case.
CDDO executive director Elizabeth Schmidt responded that transportation is one of the issues still being figured out.
Project SEARCH, to be operated by Marion County Special Education Cooperative, is expected to launch in 2017.
County commissioner Dan Holub, a member of the CDDO board of directors, said Marion County lacks sufficient transportation services.
Rep. Don Schroeder told the group that although funding for social services is needed, he doubts funding improvement will come soon.
“I’m sure you’ve all heard about our revenue problems,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder said he’s been hearing from service providers who are not getting payments in a timely fashion.
Holub said when he contacted state officials about the issues facing developmental disability providers he was referred to a bureaucracy.
“People shouldn’t have to deal with that. They’re already down,” Holub said.
Schroeder said it’s not always easy to find “the right person” to help.
“Why don’t they turn it over to Amazon?” Holub said.