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Space for Adults with Special Needs Closing in Stockton

 STOCKTON -- Jarod Geer's scrapbook is full of good memories, memories he made with his friends at the Activity Center -- a program in Stockton for adults with special needs.

Jarod is reluctantly packing up and leaving.

"His bin had his name on it. And so when we were leaving Tuesday, he went over to his bin and kissed it goodbye," Jarod's mom, Michele Osoria, told FOX40.

Osoria says she was forced to make the decision sooner rather than later, after learning from staff that the Activity Center is closing due to funding issues.

"The county said a decision had not been made yet, but I have an email from that same individual in December saying it’s closing in June of 2018," she said.

The Valley Mountain Regional Center, or VMRC, funds most of the operation at $1.9 million this fiscal year. San Joaquin County subsidizes the remaining costs at about $621,000 this fiscal year.

The VMRC says few programs like this are still standing because costs keep rising, and they are not cost effective.

Because the Activity Center is located at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, the program's employees are paid county rates -- much more, the VMRC says, than all of its other workers.

Legally, they say, those employees can't be paid any less.

“We want to understand why promotions and raises were given when there was already a budget deficit," Osoria said.

The VMRC tells FOX40 it is notifying around 130 adults who go to the Activity Center, and taking care to place them in new programs.

Osoria says the stress of such a big change takes an intolerable toll on people with special needs who rely on their routines.

"My son ending up in the hospital is not a smooth transition," she told FOX40.

Jarod, 27, is now out of the hospital and feeling better.

Still, his mom says, he would rather be at the Activity Center with friends, making his own lunch in the kitchen.

"At his new program," Osoria said. "We will have to pack his lunch every day."