Day Programs... DAP (Developmental Activity Program)

In the 1970’s and ‘80’s, day time services to persons with developmental disabilities were of two types. “Vocational”, aimed at teaching work skills, and “Pre-Vocational”, which aimed at teaching fundamental, underlying skills needed to work.

Both approaches rested on the belief that the basic value of a day program was for a person to achieve a paying job. A job is, in our culture, seen as a fundamental definition of self worth and having a “normal” life. Whether it “fit” as a sensible objective for the individual or not, was secondary.

By the late 1980’s the Association had already drifted away from such a singular perspective of personal worth and it ended its “Pre-Vocational” program. The Developmental Activity Program was created in its place, with the shifted focus of exposing people to enriched social experiences and trying simply to do more things that people wanted to do. “Finding a job” was no longer the official objective but increasing and improving the number and quality of social events and networks in someone’s life became the primary focus.

Unlike the earlier objective, the new focus feels closer and more readily achievable. However, with the complexity of communication and resource obstacles faced by DAP it remains a remarkably challenging area for both DAP clients and staff. Consequently, it also remains a ‘mirror’ of our community’s most fundamental commitments to our most vulnerable members.

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