$8.5 million plan for new adult training center

The government’s draft budget for next year includes $8.5 million for a new center for adults with disabilities.

According to Shari Smith, director of the Sunrise Adult Training Centre, construction on a new purpose-built facility will likely begin in 2016. She said the team planning the new building is still narrowing down a site, but it will be in a central location somewhere between George Town and Prospect.

A consultant’s report on Cayman’s services for adults with learning and physical disabilities found that the Sunrise Adult Training Centre did not have enough slots to meet demand. The report also cited the center’s West Bay location as an issue for many in Cayman, and noted that the services should be available in a more central area.

Ms. Smith said there are some people in East End and North Side who cannot get to Sunrise but will be able to go to the new location. There are at least 15 people on the wait list for Sunrise, she said.

Sunrise is currently housed in a converted duplex in West Bay. The new facility, which Ms. Smith said should open in 2018, will be purpose built for adults with learning and physical disabilities. It will have easier access for people in wheelchairs and will be able to provide space for expanded programs.

“Imagine going from a duplex to a real building,” Ms. Smith said. As an example, she said, “It will be great to be able to do our crafts program the way we want to do our crafts program.

“We envision a place that is inviting, not just to our clients but to the community as a whole,” she said.

Sunrise offers vocational training, assists with job placement, teaches life skills and has other programs for adults with disabilities, starting when they turn 18.

“There’s a lot more people we could be providing support to,” Ms. Smith said. Acting on recommendations in the report, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the $8.5 million for a new adult training facility in the Legislative Assembly last week.

Ms. Smith said the annual operating costs would go from $1.35 million last year to $3 million a year with the increased capacity.

The current center has space for 50 clients. The report from Deloitte, the consultant that studied Cayman’s adult disability needs, found that the Sunrise Centre will soon need to double its capacity and prepare to have more than 100 people at the facility.

Estimates for the increased demand for adult care are based on intake at the Lighthouse School, which cares for children with disabilities.

The new center, Ms. Smith said, will have space for more than 100 clients. “This does not just include our needs now, but projects our needs over the next 10 years,” she said.

The bigger space and increase in clients will likely mean more staff for the center. Ms. Smith said Sunrise currently employs 17 people, but that number is likely to rise with the new facility in the coming years.

Ms. Smith said architectural and business planning for the new Sunrise facility will start as soon as January.

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