The Children's Institute (TCI), based in Verona, opened the doors of its new 42,000-square foot facility in Livingston, Friday, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local and state officials.
The Children's Institute is a private, non-profit school teaching children and young adults, ages 3-21, who are autistic or have related disabilities.
“We have been working on this for 10 years,” said Superintendent Dr. Bruce Ettinger. “Children on the autism spectrum deserve to have their own environment and there's a critical need for adults who would otherwise be sitting at home.”
The ceremony on Friday, Oct. 26 marked more than a decade of effort by officials to open the new Livingston campus.
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th), New Jersey state Sen. Richard Codey (D-27th), state Assem. Mila Jasey (D-27th), state Assem. John McKeon (D-Essex) and Livingston Deputy Mayor Rudy Fernandez Jr. all attended the ceremony.
The new campus, located at 6 Regent St., will house the high school and young adult program, for students ages 14 through 18 on the autism spectrum as well as the Center for Independence for ages 21 and over.
TCI looks like a high school but has all the subtle support groups that the children need, said Ettinger.
“Here they can be on the student council, or the basketball team and make friends with the other children,” he said.
The Center for Independence is a day program which teaches important life skills such as cooking, cleaning, maintaining independence as well as vocational skills, counseling and behavioral supports.
The facility houses 12 classrooms, computer lab, science lab, instructional television studio, life skills apartment, reading lab, culinary instructional kitchen, career education rooms, fitness center, conference rooms and a separate wing for adults attending The Center for Independence.
The high school offers many different programs including classes in horticulture and multimedia.
With the help of David Di Ianni, a television broadcasting teacher at TCI, students create live to tape programs, spoof news programs and screenplays in the television studio.
“Every child is entitled to programs and services that all children need to succeed,” said Ettinger. “It took 10 years to achieve but our dream came true.”