Education, Employment and Day Program Options

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What types of daytime activities are available for my adult child with special needs?

Depending on your family member’s level of functioning and interests, there are a variety of daytime activities available.

Continuing Education/Vocational Training   

Many programs available through the Los Angeles Community College District  are appropriate for some adults with special needs. Accommodations and support services are administered through Disability Resource Centers.

The Tarjan Center at UCLA’s Open the Doors to College provides information about California’s higher education options for students with intellectual disabilities and autism.

Click on the links below to get more information about specific programs:     iStock_000013212440_Large

Los Angeles Mission College, Disabled Studies Program and Services 

Los Angeles Valley College, Services for Students with Disabilities

Pathway, at UCLA Extension

Santa Monica College Disability Resources

West LA College, Disabled Students Programs and Services

Think College offers information about inclusive higher education options across the country.

In 2015, President Obama announced the Student Bill of Rights to help make it easier and fairer to pay for higher education. Under this program, students who borrowed money to pay for college or certain other vocational training programs and are “totally and permanently disabled” might be eligible to have Federal loans discharged. The program is called, “Total and Permanent Disability Discharge for Federal Student Loan Borrowers.”

Other Opportunities

Click on the links below for more information.

Actors for Autism

This organization offers a media vocational training program that combines workshops, hands on experience and internships for adults with disabilities.

The ARC of Los Angeles and Orange Counties

This program offers a variety of educational, vocational and community integration resources.

Exceptional Minds Studio 

This program provides young adults with instruction and hands-on experience in multi-media, computer animation, and post-production.

The Help Group’s Advance LA Program

This program offers a variety of skills coaching, transitional living and social opportunities.

JBI International    

Originally called the Jewish Braille Institute, this organization provides free large print, braille and audio books for people who are blind or have low vision.

Jewish Educational Trade School

This school for Jewish young men teaches job and life skills, and provides Jewish and secular learning.

LA ORT College 

This school offers a variety of programs, including preparation for the GED exam, for a diverse student body.

ROSIES Foundation

This program creates employment opportunities through training, apprenticeships, job placement and support.

Tierra Del Sol Foundation

This organization offers several continuing education programs including the Sunland Campus, with instruction in a wide variety of job related areas as well as adult life skills, social/recreational and artistic expression, and the NEXUS program, which provides supported education on local community college campuses.

Community Day Programs

According to the Alta California Regional Center, there are six types of day programs available in Greater Los Angeles. (Excerpted from “Navigation Guide for Adult Day and Work Services,” Alta California Regional Center )

  • Activity Centers – These programs serve adults who have acquired most basic self-care skills, have some ability to interact with others and are able to make their needs known and respond to instructions. Activity Center programs focus on the development and maintenance of the functional skills required for self-advocacy, community integration, and employment.
  • Adult Development Centers – These programs serve adults who are in the process of acquiring self-help skills. These programs focus on the development and maintenance of the functional skills required for self-advocacy, community integration, employment, and self-care. Typical staff ratio is 1:4.
  • Behavior Management Programs – These community-based programs serve adults who are not eligible to participate in other day programs because of their severe behavioral challenges. Typical staff ratio is 1:3.
  • Community Integration Training Programs - These programs can be focused on work preparation, intensive behavior support, or mental health. Ratio may be 1:1. Programs vary in target populations and approaches.
  • Community Activities Supported Services (CASS) – These programs serve consumers with very specialized needs. They typically have a variable ratio, and are time limited. Community Programs might include transitional housing and/or wraparound services. Services sometimes include enrollment in other kinds of adult day programs.
  • Work Activity Programs – These are programs that offer vocational or job-training services designed to prepare an adult with special needs for supported employment. The work is completed in a workshop setting and is designed to teach vocational skills. Contact the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities for more information about the effect of the state’s Employment First policy on sheltered workshops.


Click on the links below to learn more about each program.

In the Jewish Community 

ETTA’s Isak Boruchin Adult Day Program

This vendored program provides meaningful community activities for adults with special needs. Activities include volunteering, self-care skills, vocational readiness training, and supported employment services.

In Greater Los Angeles

Creative Steps

This adult community integration program provides job training, life skills, social skills and community awareness training. Recreation programs are also available.

Easter Seals Southern California

Services include adult day activities, community outings and job training services.

Golden Heart Ranch Social Living Club

This program, located in the south bay area, offers a variety of skills-building opportunities, social events and learning experiences for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Jay Nolan Community Services

Provides support to people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities and their families, including family and employment assistance, supported living, and day activity services.

Los Angeles Goal

Provides  opportunities seven days a week for adults with special needs to increase their independence and employability through educational, vocational and recreational programs.

Mychal’s Path to Independence

This is an adult day program, located in the south bay area, for individuals with developmental disabilities ages 18 – 30 (18 with a diploma or 22 with a certificate of completion).

New Horizons

Provides a Day Training Activity Center (DTAC), housing services, Sam’s Café, workshops, and supported employment for individuals with special needs and acquired traumatic brain injuries.

TASC (Adult Skills Center)

Provides a variety of vocational and daytime activities for adults with special needs.

Vista Del Mar

This school has programs serving students ages 18-22 who require additional vocational, social and independent living skills before moving beyond high school.

Click here for questions to consider when visiting a Community Day Program.


California’s Employment First policy declares that providing opportunities for inclusive and competitive employment for adults with developmental disabilities is a priority for the state.

To learn more about the connection between working and your adult’s federal benefits and state entitlements, visit

Department of Rehabilitation Servicesjobs Adults with disabilities may receive services through the state Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). DOR helps Californians with disabilities find and keep jobs, and maximize their ability to live as independently as possible. Services can include help with assistive technology, mobility, job training, and independent living assistance. Regional centers fund habilitation services for adults with developmental disabilities who want to work but need more support than is offered through the state Department of Rehabilitation (DOR).

Habilitation Services – Habilitation services funded through Regional Centers include Work Activity Programs (WAPs) and Supported Employment Programs (SEPs).

Work Activity Programs (WAPs) – These programs include paid work and vocational support services in a sheltered workshop setting. Contact the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities for more information about the effect of the state’s Employment First policy on sheltered workshops.

Supported Employment Programs (SEPs) – These programs help consumers find jobs in the community and provide ongoing support services. Job coaches often provide the specialized vocational, social and behavioral support necessary for consumers to perform their job independently. Services are gradually phased out as the consumer gains mastery of the skills necessary to perform and keep his or her job.

Other Agencies

Employment Development Department (EDD) Provides job services to adults with disabilities and others requiring special assistance through local job centers. The Employment Development Department is part of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. EDD offers a variety of services including referrals to job openings or training, vocational counseling, job search assistance, and workshops and testing.

Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) JVS provides vocational assessment, training and support in the Jewish Community setting and beyond. For an online tool to help your adult with special needs think about different kinds of jobs, click here.

Click on the links below to learn more about the following programs.

In the Jewish Community 

Shalom Institute’s Shemesh Enterprises 

This year-round program teaches life skills through agriculture, crafts, baking and social enterprise development. Adult fellows with special needs learn every aspect of creating cottage industries including farming, preparing and selling goods.

Jewish Educational Trade School

This school for Jewish young men teaches job and life skills, and provides Jewish and secular learning.

In Greater Los Angeles

Best Buddies California

Best Buddies provides individuals with developmental disabilities  with job placement, job coaching, and opportunities for one-on-one friendships.

Bridges From School to Work

This agency matches youth with disabilities between the ages of 17 and 22 with competitive employment positions in the Los Angeles area.

Goodwill Industries of Southern California

This agency provides job placement and employee training programs.

Mychal’s Howl at the Moon Café  

This pop up coffee service provides coffee and baked goods for community events and private catering. The program offers part-time employment to some participants who have earned their barista training and California Food Handler’s certification during the training period.


This agency strategically places individuals in work environments that are compatible with their talents, interests, and abilities.

Project SEARCH California

Funded by a grant from the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities, Project SEARCH works with interested businesses and organizations to build a workforce that includes people with disabilities.

Volunteers of America  (VOA)– Intellectual Disabilities Programs

VOA provides supported employment, housing and community involvement opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

For more information about day programs and work options, click here to be connected with an LAJA Case Manager or Intake Specialist.

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