CAF has a rich history that spans over 30 years and is marked by several notable accomplishments. To this day CAF remains committed to the vision that was born from a meeting among a group of friends with the desire to provide a better life for one child.
In 1982 six friends joined together around a dining room table and changed the face of local disability services’; their mission – to create a home within the community for the foster son of the founder of the California Autism Foundation. At the time, 18-year old Kenny was institutionalized in the Napa State Hospital. Kenny was severely impacted by autism, had minimal speech and severe behavioral problems. Kenny’s prognosis was dismal and the founder’s inquiries and efforts were dismissed and he was told, “If he wanted Kenny to live in the community he would have to start a program himself. “
His refusal to accept that institutionalization was Kenny’s only option fueled his desire, and with $30,000 in borrowed funds, in August of 1983, the first ABC Residential Home opened in San Rafael, California. The residents; six young men with disabilities deemed too severe to ever live within the community and sentenced to a lifetime of institutionalization. ABC represented hope and an opportunity to have a quality life within the community by living in a therapeutic and supportive environment. Based on the tenets of human rights and respect, ABC Residential Home encouraged empowerment through inclusion, positive programming, and the development of communication skills. The venture proved highly successful and to this day, ABC is still home to Kenny and his five housemates who live active and productive lives.
In 1986, the Regional Center of the East Bay asked CAF to open a second home, and the Foundation continued to expand and CAF now owns and operates 3 adult residential homes.
The next several years, brought rapid program expansion to include the creation of:
- ABC School
- ABC Adult Day Program
- ABC Work Activity Program
- Custom Assembly & Packaging
- ABC Supported Employment Program
- ABC Supported Living Services
In 2005, acutely aware that individuals with disabilities face many challenges and barriers to safe, affordable and integrated housing, CAF created ABC Apartments which provides adults affordable and integrated community living in Contra Costa County.
2008 ushered in another significant change for CAF; John Visbal stepped in as CEO and implemented a restructuring and reorganization plan to expand programs and services to re-energize CAF’s longstanding mission to provide individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities the best possible opportunities for lifetime support, training and assistance.