Cooperative For Human Services responded to a growing need for more housing options to support young adults with developmental disabilities as they transition from special education programs to adult services. In June 2019, the organization opened a residential program in Andover, MA to support up to five young adults with a wide range of abilities, hobbies and interests. The home is located on a tree-lined street of stately Colonial homes and is within a short walking distance to the heart of town. This proximity offers the individuals served with easy access to community activities, outdoor venues and opportunities for socializing. 

As the individuals settle into their new environment, they are supported to create a Vision for their unique interests, hopes and dreams which will then lead to setting goals through development of an Individual Service Plan (ISP). Person-centered Visions are a starting point, but the goals evolve and change as the person grows, matures and increases in independence.

Later that same month, the Cooperative For Humans Services opened a residential program near downtown Malden, MA to support young adults diagnosed with Autism disorder. The urban home features two apartments that serve up to four individuals and a third apartment which is home to a live-in manager. The goals for this type of living arrangement are first, to ensure the health and safety of each housemate, to foster the personal growth of the individuals’ served with continual staff support as needed and to promote maximum independence.

Each residential program, regardless whether located in a suburban or urban setting, has a focus on engagement and development of new relationships. The transition to a new home can be challenging, but engagement in hobbies and activities helps serve as an outlet for expression of feelings and aids in processing the changes. Open dialog with housemates, staff, family and friends is encouraged until housemates settle into a new routine and their personalized surroundings.

During the transition period, individuals are encouraged to expand their network of natural supports beyond school, family and paid staff.  Relationships in the community, with the potential to blossom into friendships, are particularly nurtured, as are those developed through shared experiences, hobbies and sports. It takes time to adjust to a new community, but functioning as an adult in an environment of greater independence is just the beginning of an entirely new life full of possibilities.