DELANCO: New program serves adults with developmental disabilities

A new day program for adults with developmental disabilities has opened in New Jersey.

By Jennifer Kohlhepp, Managing Editor
DELANCO — A new day program for adults with developmental disabilities has opened in New Jersey.
   Nestled in the 3.3-square-mile town of Delanco in Burlington County, the new Friends of Cyrus facility provides an adult day program Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The center assists adults with disabilities in all aspects of daily living based on their individual needs, according to Hightstown resident Kamelia Kameli, founder and executive director of Friends of Cyrus.
   ”When individuals age out of education, they have to look for adult services,” Ms. Kameli said. “A day program is often difficult to find. It has to be based on your individual plan. If self-directed, you have to find self-directed services. That is what we offer here.”
   Ms. Kameli said a self-directed program means a program based on a client’s individualized habilitation plan. She said Friends of Cyrus conducts person-centered planning meetings with clients and their loved ones to identify the best-matched activities for clients.
   The adult day program has a staff to client ratio of 1:6. The staff to client ratio can be reduced to 1:3 or 1:1, depending on an individual’s support needs and available funding, according to Ms. Kameli.
   Clients participate in community activities, such as shopping and day trips to malls, museums and the theater. They also learn daily living skills, such as cooking, cleaning, hygiene, money management and communication skills. Clients also can participate in volunteer activities, vocational training, art and music therapy, physical fitness training and computer training at the facility.
   Ms. Kameli knows finding an adult day program in New Jersey can be difficult as she had to look for one for her son, Cyrus, 22, who has severe autism.
   ”I know so many parents and families looking for a program like this, which is individualized, focused on person-centered activities and looks at every individual with their unique needs,” Ms. Kameli said.
   Ms. Kameli said the Delanco facility will serve individuals living in Burlington County, surrounding counties and beyond.
   ”If you are in the Division of Developmental Disabilities system, you can participate,” Ms. Kameli said.
   Inspired by her son, Ms. Kameli started Friends of Cyrus three years ago to provide in-house supports to children and adults with developmental disabilities throughout the state of New Jersey. The organization since has grown to offer the adult day program and aims to make more community-based residential services available to New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities.
   ”We have this day program, which serves 25 individuals, and a group home opening in August in Marlton,” Ms. Kameli said. “And we have plans of opening more residential programs.”
   All services provided by Friends of Cyrus aim to foster independence, integration, individuality and productivity within the community, Ms. Kameli said.
   ”We are committed to person-centered planning, which entitles every consumer to take an active role in establishing his or her own goals and objectives,” Ms. Kameli said. “We build on strengths, abilities, gifts, talents, skills and contributions of each individual we serve and treat them with respect and dignity. That is what every person deserves. That is what I want for my son, Cyrus, and for all Friends of Cyrus.”
   She hopes the Friends of Cyrus adult day program helps meet a need in New Jersey.
   ”There are just not enough programs out there,” Ms. Kameli said. “More and more programs need to open up with specialty services. Families really have to travel the state to find services.”
   The creation of the adult day program center in Delanco took about four months to come to fruition.
   ”It’s a great location because it’s close to all the community places,” Ms. Kameli said, adding there is a local park, restaurants, theater, roller skating rink and opportunities for employment nearby.
   Delanco Mayor Kate Fitzpatrick said, “I think it’s wonderful. It’s a great facility, and to be able to have clients come here and learn all the basic skills we all learn eventually is just great. It is important that everyone has an opportunity to grow.”
   For more information about the new adult day program, call 856-255-5630 or visit www.friendsofcyrus.com.