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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Exceptional Children’s Foundation: Celebrating 75 Years of Service

In 1946, a group of parents in Los Angeles pooled their resources to create a daycare program for their children with developmental disabilities. Over the years, Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF) has become a recognized innovator of services for young children, students and adults challenged with developmental, learning and emotional barriers. ECF serves more than 5,000 clients and their families each year at 15 program sites, remotely, in clients’ homes and in community settings throughout Los Angeles County. ECF is the only organization of its kind in California offering a full continuum of lifespan services for children and adults with developmental disabilities and other special needs.

The mission of ECF is to provide the highest quality services for children and adults who are challenged with developmental, learning and emotional barriers – empowering them to reach their greatest potential.
ECF envisions a society in which people of all abilities are valued and included in educational, social, employment and residential settings.

There are a number of impactful programs offered by ECF, including:

The ECF Early Start Program provides home-based and center-based early intervention and educational services to families with children 0-3 who are developmentally delayed or disabled. Speech, occupational and physical therapies guide each child to develop motor, cognitive, language and social skills – contributing to healthy and age-appropriate development. Family supports offered include parent education, counseling, referrals and advocacy, and medical assessments.

ECF’s WASC-accredited nonpublic K-12 school provides special education for students who have learning, emotional and developmental challenges. An Enrichment Program is also offered, including visual and performing arts, team sports, vocational and technology training and community service. All of our educators are committed to the idea that every child can learn – and with individualized support and care, we help each child develop their confidence and unique potential so they can succeed both in and out of the classroom.

Individual, group and family treatment is provided to help students overcome complex challenges that create barriers to their academic success, while also supporting their family members in improving overall family functioning. Medication evaluation and management is available, as is Applied Behavioral Analysis Services for those with autism spectrum disorders.

ECF’s Exceptional Works program is a unique continuum of services that offer skill development, work training, on-site paid work experience and placement into community jobs – all creating Pathways to Employment.

• Work Readiness teaches participants the skills needed to find and retain a job.

• Exceptional Packaging Solutions offers participants skills training and paid work experience while fulfilling packaging and assembly contract work from local businesses.

•Exceptional Training Academy offers hands-on specialized vocational training in computer literacy, janitorial services and warehouse operations.

• College Classroom Program, in partnership with educational institutions, provides in-class support to adult students, helping them successfully complete vocational training courses.

• Exceptional Employment Solutions offers job placement and on-the-job training and coaching support. Employers with fair-market wage jobs can earn a tax incentive by employing adults with developmental disabilities.

Established in 1968, the ECF Art Centers program provides fine art training along with opportunities for participants to exhibit and sell their work. Juried art shows, local gallery exhibits and partnerships with local artists and arts organizations provide community exposure for artists and their work. All sale proceeds are split between the artist and the program. View and purchase art at ArtECF.org.

The Developmental Activity Center provides participants with opportunities to strengthen their independence, social skills and self-determination, all with respect for each person’s ability level. Skills are reinforced through community integration experiences such as grocery shopping, attending cultural events and participating in volunteer opportunities.

Exceptional Community Connections offers meaningful volunteer opportunities where participants can integrate into community settings. Service projects are designed to assist participants in developing a variety of skills, along with sense of self-worth, while meeting the needs of diverse communities.

Residential Services offers a variety of living arrangements from apartment complexes to group homes, combined with independent living skills training and support services to foster the highest level of client independence. Around-the-clock assistance and medical supervision services are available to meet clients’ changing and emerging needs.

As ECF celebrates its 75th anniversary of service, at the end of an unprecedented year, the organization looks to the future inspired by the many ways its lifespan of services and programs bring together dedicated and gifted teachers and staff; visionary and compassionate community and business partners; advocates; and donors to realize dreams and transform the lives of children and adults with special needs and unique abilities.

ECF commits together moving forward, as it has for seven and a half decades, ensuring accessible, innovative, engaging and enriching programs and services to help children and adults with special needs reach their greatest potential – in school, in the workforce, and in the community. The impact ECF programs and services have on individual lives, on families and on its shared community is a testament to what we can all accomplish, together.

Together, we transform lives. Together, we are exceptional.

Scott D. Bowling, Psy.D., is president & CEO of the Exceptional Children’s Foundation. To learn more, visit ECF.net.

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