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AbilityFirst provides a variety of programs designed to help people with disabilities to achieve their personal best throughout their lives. Our person-centered programs are grounded in individual choice, autonomy and community participation. They empower individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and other intellectual/developmental disabilities to discover what is important to them in their lives and develop the skills that are important for them to achieve their goals.

To learn more about our programs, click through the tabs on the left.

Department of Developmental Services Web Site:

Department of Developmental Services telephone number: 916-654-1987

Pursuant to AB 1402, all Regional Center providers are required to post a link to the page on the Department of Developmental Services’ website that provides a description of the appeals procedure in the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act. Call 916-654-1958 or click here for more information.

For Youth

After School and Summer Programs

AbilityFirst after school and summer programs provide a nurturing environment for school-age youth who have developmental disabilities. Our well-trained and caring staff provides opportunities for new experiences that encourage socialization, exploration, and choice. Participants enjoy an enriching program that also provides needed personal care (including feeding, changing, transferring, etc.) while supporting personal growth and discovery.

Through center-based activities and field trips, AbilityFirst helps participants achieve their personal best in the following areas:

  • Basic Life Skills—preparing simple snacks, learning personal care and practicing safety in the community
  • Communication—participants work on communicating their basic wants and needs through language skills, body language, picture boards or use of technology
  • Socialization—participants increase their ability to interact with their peers, such as respecting personal space, taking turns and making new friends
  • Healthy Living—including swim instruction—participants improve and practice healthy living including learning to choose healthy snacks and portion control, and have opportunities to play outside or swim.

Youth Employment Programs

Student Services Work Experience is a work-based learning experience that offers students with disabilities who are in high school or a transition program the opportunity to explore work experiences in a variety of real time work settings. The program is offered through California State Department of Rehabilitation.


Program Location Contact Forms

For Adults

Social Recreation programs encompass a variety of interests while offering a fun atmosphere for adults. Activities include typical weekend activities such as parties and dances, going out to dinner and a show, gardening, swimming and preparing to participate in the AbilityFirst annual fundraising events.

ExploreAbility is an adult day and community integration program. The goals of the ExploreAbility program are to help adults explore and identify what is important to them, to develop the skills necessary to achieve their goals and to be involved in their communities through volunteering and community activities. Individual support and small-group activities promote interaction and learning. The program is designed to help individuals access their communities in their daily lives, work, recreational and leisure activities. It incorporates volunteering, community activities, independent living and skill-building, using a small group model. ExploreAbility is currently offered at the AbilityFirst Joan and Harry A. Mier Center in Inglewood and the AbilityFirst Lawrence L. Frank Center in Pasadena. ExploreAbility is a licensed program.

PossAbility is intended for adults who want to enhance their skills and independence, and to participate in their communities. Individuals in the program are empowered to set and pursue personal goals with an emphasis on employment readiness and increased community connections, including volunteering. The program is offered in Pasadena and Los Angeles.

The PossAbility program is designed to help adults with developmental disabilities to:

  • Discover what is important to them; their interests, abilities and goals
  • Learn about what is important to them to achieve their goals
  • Become involved in their communities in their daily lives, work, volunteering and leisure activities
  • Make friends, increase skills and participate with others who share the same interests and goals
  • Enhance their skills in the areas of job readiness and employment, communication, socialization, independent living and healthy living skills


We always welcome your visits! Feel free to call and schedule an appointment to meet with a center director.

Program Location Contact Forms 

Job Development and Placement

In order for Job Development to be successful, it is important that the job developer partners with local businesses to gain an understanding of the organization’s goals and specific hiring needs. Once this is accomplished, the process continues by developing hiring solutions through the flexible process of Customized Employment. This process consists of matching the business needs with the individual’s strengths, interests, and capabilities through various assessment tools, interviews, internships, job shadowing and resume building.

The Job Developers work with individuals throughout the job search process to:

  • Create and Develop Cover Letters, Resumes, Portfolios, and ‘Thank You’ Letters
  • Complete paper or online applications/assessments
  • Present employment proposals to potential employers, and strategic marketing/networking on the individual’s behalf
  • Develop Interview Skills: Mock Interviews and Situational Interviewing
  • Provide Interview Support
  • Follow-up with employers on the individual’s behalf, or coaching the individual on follow-up procedures and techniques
  • Work with employers for recruitment, job customization, and placement

Job Coaching

Job Coaches provide on-the-job training at the business site by supporting the individual through coaching and mentoring. This ensures a successful transition into community employment, and helps to encourage job retention for the individual.

The Job Coach conducts on-board support and training through a process of systematic instruction, performance measurement, natural supports, and identifies any accommodations and adaptions if needed. This support will gradually be reduced overtime until the individual feels comfortable and becomes independent on the job.

Community Careers

This program focuses on the direction for an individual’s job search. Opportunities for exploration and self-discovery may include: job shadowing, interest assessment and internship opportunities, leading to expanding community engagement and informed career choices. It is a time-limited program and may be used for individuals who are transitioning out of the work centers and exploring their options for community employment.

Project SEARCH

AbilityFirst is proud to provide employment supports to Project SEARCH interns at the Kaiser Administrative Offices in Pasadena.

The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, job coaches, and employers. The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is a total workplace immersion with a host business and related agencies. Participants are on-site at the business location each day for a minimum of six hours. The partners provide consistent on-site staff, including a special education teacher and job coaches. Individual job development and placement occurs based on the participant’s experience, strengths, and skills. Participants are given support with accommodations, assistive technology, and on-the-job coaching.

The Project SEARCH program model was developed at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996, and has been nationally duplicated more than 500 times in ten countries. Through this program, young adults develop the tools necessary for employment and skills needed for self-determination, management and self-advocacy.

Youth Employment Programs

Student Services Work Experience is a work-based learning experience that offers students with disabilities who are in high school or a transition program the opportunity to explore work experiences in a variety of real time work settings. The program is offered through California State Department of Rehabilitation.

Paid Internship Programs

The Paid Internship Program assists individuals with developmental disabilities to gain work experience through an on-the-job training program, with the potential of gaining part or full-time employment with the business partner.

Through The Paid Internship Program, the individual has the opportunity to experience the work environment, and develop new skill sets. Based on this model, the individual becomes better equipped to make decisions when choosing their career path.

The scope of internship and length will be individualized. The optimal outcome from The Internship Program would be that an individual has a positive experience, while forming a relationship with an employer, resulting in a job offer. The fundamental premise of the Paid Internship Program is to help the individual to make informed decisions, and help them transition into full or part-time employment.

College to Career

College to Career is a community-based program for students who want to go to college and gain the skills, training, and education they need to achieve their academic and career goals. The program also emphasizes independence and personal choice in using community resources for daily living and future employment.   The multi-year program begins with a self-discovery and community exploration component to help  students to identify and develop a plan to achieve goals.  College to Career is a traditional community college education program that offers services and supports to help students succeed.  Upon completion of the academic component, as the final stage of the program individuals may transition to community jobs, internships, or volunteer programs as they launch their career paths.


Student must be able to safely navigate in a community-based program with an average ratio of one education coach to every two students.

In and out-of-class support provided in a year-round structured environment; M-F 9:00am-3:00pm.

Weekly schedule promotes community involvement, socialization, self-care, vocational skills development, navigation safety, self-advocacy and wellness.

Transportation to/from program not provided.

A Vendor of Lanterman Regional CenterVendor Code: PD3394

Accessible Housing

Recognizing the critical need for accessible, affordable housing, AbilityFirst is a leader in operating group residential facilities for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities in Pasadena, CA. Our two facilities, a “family-style” adult residential facility, and a residential home for seniors, allow our residents to lead a semi-independent life while having a supportive, empowering, and safe home environment amongst their peers and case managers. Each facility offers spacious bedrooms, a community living room and kitchen, and large outdoor areas for recreational activities, as well as planned social and recreational opportunities off-site. We provide access to broader community settings and events and partner with our participants to build an independent and inclusive life. Some residents volunteer or have jobs in the community, others go to school, and some are participants in our Employment Services Program.

Location Contact Forms:


Open to the community, the aquatics program offers warm water exercise classes, ideal for promoting joint flexibility, range of motion, muscle tone, group and private swim lessons, as well as open swim times for the entire community.

Please click on the AbilityFirst location below for more information on their schedules and programs.

Program Inquiry

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