Who We Are History (The FECA Experience) History (The FECA Experience) Board of Directors & Advisors Mission Statement & Goals Affiliations Scholarship
Who We Are - History (The FECA Experience)

History  photoThe Foundation for Empowering Citizens with Autism formerly the Foundation for Educating Children with Autism was founded in 1994 by a group of eight families who came together with the singular purpose of starting a school for children with autism.  No school, providing the most proven effective therapy based on the principles of applied behavior analysis, existed in the Westchester area and parents had been informed by their school districts that this intensive one-to-one therapy would not be possible in the public school system.

After two years of effort during which staff to run the school had been hired, a building located, curriculum purchased and the potential student population exponentially growing, FECA hit what seemed like an insurmountable roadblock; the state's refusal to grant a charter authorizing the right for the school to open.  Though a private school alternative was possible it was resoundingly rejected on the grounds that the school should be open to all regardless of economic ability which required direct referrals from individual school districts.

The intrepid families were not to be denied, however.  A chance meeting resulted in FECA's introduction to the director of Devereux New York, a national organization serving a wide range of developmentally disabled individuals in residential settings.  One of the oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral health care in the country, the Devereux Foundation has affiliates in eleven states providing a continuum of care for children, adolescents and adults.  At the time, however Devereux New York had little experience with autism. Through our resulting partnership the Devereux Millwood Learning Center opened it's doors in 1996 to twelve children.  DMLC currently educates 48 students ages 5 to 21 in an intensive educational setting with emphasis on vocational training and community integration to prepare them for graduation to adulthood.  FECA has continued support for the school through substantial funding for teachers, staff incentives and scholarships, the purchase of eight vans for community integration, the building of a playground, a kitchen and a computer lab and other programmatic supports.

For twelve years, FECA sponsored an annual two day conference bringing in experts in education and therapeutic interventions and the latest neurological and scientific research for parents and educators.
 
Five years ago, FECA again partnered with Devereux to establish the Devereux Millwood Adult Program.  Eighteen young men currently travel in vans throughout the county to various job and volunteer sites where they are given the opportunity to continue expanding their skills and provide a valuable service to their local communities.

Shredding documents at
Mount Kisco Honda.
Polishing the cars at
Mount Kisco Honda.
Setting the tables at
Bethel Nursing Home.

This year, FECA is launching our next project - the Opportunity Network for Employers and Employees (ONEE) which seeks to further opportunities in the community for the growing population of adults with autism to volunteer and obtain gainful employment. FECA has hired former DMLC Vocational Director, Neil Boyle to reach out to businesses and non profit organizations to match their inherent opportunities with the skills and interests and experiences of individual adults with autism in the Westchester County area.  Neil has had extensive experience both in creating DMLC's vocational program which expanded dramatically during his tenure and working with public school districts to assess and evaluate their vocational programs. ONEE will partner with area adult service providers to survey interest and skills sets of their participants towards further refining a data base of opportunities.  Our first partner, the Devereux Adult Day Habilitation Program will soon add Strategies for Wealth, a wealth management firm located in Rye Brook and the Westchester Medical Center to their roster of volunteer opportunities. 

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