OUR FAMILY: Auntre, Lawrence, Taj, and Aundre "Dre" Jones, Center namesake
Dre’s Haven PSH, Inc. founded in 1999, is a charitable, non-profit organization that provides affordable housing with wrap-around supportive services, a full-range of professional services, including a day program, employment, and recreational to individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs).
Dre’s Haven started as an afterschool and summer camp program. But just as children with autism and other developmental disabilities grow up to be adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities, so did the program. As Dre approached high school graduation, Tonja began a comprehensive search for programs that not only helped adults with disabilities to live independently, but to successfully navigate adulthood while integrating into the community. She even moved her sons to another state. However, after one year, the program she envisioned remained elusive. So, for Dre’s 21st birthday, Tonja created one. Dre’s Haven is the gift Tonja envisioned; a safe, affordable community with the supports that allow “differently abled” adults to live independently, make friends, develop knowledge, skills, and a sense of belonging as they are provided the opportunity to access resources, and actively participate in the community make lifelong friends in a safe, stable and familiar setting – a place where they can be integral and valued members of their larger community.
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, affecting 1 in 45 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the coming decade, as many as 500,000 children with autism will reach adulthood, yet very few residential options exist to care for them.
Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities grow up to be adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and Dre’s Haven represents a long overdue community that was designed to address the unique needs of adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities as they navigate adulthood and integrate into the community. Dre’s Haven leverages and optimizes the insights and knowledge gained through autism research (including the rearing of Dre, now 30), while embracing sustainable design and best practices.
Launched on April 6, 2000, Aundre’s 10th birthday, Dre’s Playhouse was an innovative after-school and summer camp program of educational, cultural, fun-filled activities for children with autism and other IDDs. Something amazing was created from the frustration and pain of Aundre being repeatedly denied enrollment in his school’s extracurricular activities.
In 2001, after a successful inaugural year, Dre’s Playhouse Exceptional Childcare & Development Center grew to serve pre-school children with autism and IDDs and their siblings.
In 2002, Dre’s Pathway Exceptional Academy, became a certified McKay Scholarship private school serving K-12 students of all exceptionalities.
In 2008, Aundre (and most of the Dre’s Playhouse inaugural class) turned 18 and legally became adults. In their honor, Dre’s Pathway to Independence was licensed as an agency provider for the State of Florida, Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD).
In 2010, Aundre graduated from University High School at the age of 20. Recognizing the dire need for increased resources and activities for “aged out” adults with IDDs, Dre’s Pathway to Independence created “Catch 22”, an adult day program of activities that addresses the transition and unique issues (ie; social isolation) of “aged out” adults with IDDs.
In 2017, Dre’s Haven launched “Envision at Dre’s Haven, providing “scattered” affordable housing with a continuum of services and support that enables more than 80 adults with IDDs increase their interpersonal skills, natural supports and opportunities to connect to their families and community.
Envision at Dre’s Haven is the result of researching housing options for more than 15 years of conducting site visits, focus groups and national family round tables, and design and planning sessions. Beyond unique, immunities include a Health & Fitness room, sports pool, Zen room, game room, LEGO lounge, culinary teaching kitchen and community garden.
Created as a pilot community, Dre’s Haven and is intended to be a statewide model.: