The Residential Center project aims to create a social-therapeutic-occupational self-sustaining service for young people and adults with autism through a public-private partnership that will provide the target group with social housing / residential support, social assistance and necessary therapies.
According to the latest studies published by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the only entity in the world doing annual studies on this) – National Statistics Reports (US), in recent years, there has been a significant increase in diagnosed children with autism spectrum disorder (1-50). This report has been drawn up between 2015 and 2016.
There is absolutely no statistic in Romania and there are no studies indicating the actual number of people with autism. In 2010, under the pressure of parents’ associations, what is known as the “Autism Act”, Law 151/2010, was adopted. In 2016, the Implementing Rules were published in the Official Gazette. FEDRA, the Federation of Parents Associations, is the organization that has permanently worked with the Ministry of Labor to develop the methodological norms of the law.
Practically, in Romania there are no specific public services available for adults with autism.
The family and non-governmental organizations are the only help available.
At present, there is no residential center specifically designed for adults with autism spectrum disorders in Romania.
Practically, from this point of view, after the age of 18, people with autism no longer exist for specific social services in the public system. And this is because this condition is classified as mental illness or psychiatric disorder.
Also, specific therapy options are eliminated, and adults with autism are placed in private or state centers for people with mental disorders or psychiatric hospitals. None of these places offer specialized protection and care to this target group.
The conclusion is that there is a drastic need to help adults with autism with residential social services, employment services in sheltered jobs, specific therapy services that will allow them to develop as adults.
At this time, “Crystal Children” Association provides specialized services to 43 children and 15 young adults and adults with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger, ADHD, Down Syndrome and associated disorders.
The Residential Center project will create a center for adults different from the usual ones in Romania, as it will have, besides the residential social services for adults with ASD, Down syndrome and other associated disorders offered either permanently or in the care system, and jobs in a sheltered workshop system.
The basic concept of this project is self-sustainability.
The project will develop an organic farm and a social restaurant where the products obtained through the work of the beneficiaries of the Residential Center will be used.
One of the most important aspects of the project: the partnership with Prejmer Agricultural College and Prejmer Town Hall.
The Agricultural College in Prejmer has a school farm that it wants to develop and needs a human resource to permanently care for the garden, solariums, specific facilities.
The Crystal Children Association comes with the beneficiaries to cover this need, without expense from the Agricultural College in Prejmer.
The Prejmer Town Hall can provide the project with the location for farm development and facilities to ensure self-sustainability.
The labor force for training as social workers will be attracted from among the Prejmer inhabitants, with priority.
Key project partners:
- G.A.S.P.C. Braşov – we have written permission from the institution
- the County Council of Brașov – talk and we have the consent principle in support of 2%, financing for the implementation of the project to obtain financing through POR 2014-2020
- Transilvania University from Brașov and Babeș-Bolyai University from Cluj Napoca, to provide specific expertise for agriculture, rural tourism services, and social psychology – we have the confirmation of several academics from faculties of both universities
- Consultants with experience in writing and project management with European funding – we have a team of Romanian consultants and a consultant from Netherlands
- Partners from Netherlands, where social residential farm system has been implemented for many years
During the project preparation stage, other entities will also be able to join the partnership, if the partners find that it is appropriate to do so.
The first step is to develop the Residential Center.
The residential center has started since November 2017 with funding from the Globe Aware Foundation in the US. Families will be involved in this project as their children will spend the rest of their lives in this center after the family will no longer be able to support them.
Young people and adults with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger syndrome, ADHD, Down syndrome, and associated disorders will be directly involved in work on the Agricultural College of Prejmer, assisted by volunteers and parents (as personal assistants).
The provision of animals that can be used for the therapy of children and young people (donkeys, horses, for example, but not restrictive, depends on the suggestions from the Prejmer Agricultural College teaching staff) will provide the attraction element for families in the neighboring localities who want to come and visit the location. It will also include visits organized through school units in Braşov County.
The second step is the restaurant setting up and operation.
We chose a restaurant as a business idea, because Brașov County has a very developed tourist industry.
Prejmer Locality has also a great tourist potential. This will ensure the flow of tourists for the location in time.
The idea of the project will be able to undergo changes or adaptations based on partners’ proposals, but the basic idea is the one mentioned in the beginning.