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Overview of our Programs  

At the Charles River Center, we provide programs and services for over 950 children and adults with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities.  We serve families from many communities including Needham, Wellesley, Natick, Framingham, Newton, Dedham, Sharon, Waltham, Roslindale, and many more.

Our programs are organized into four divisions:

  • Employment Services
  • Day Habilitation
  • Residential Services
  • Family Support

There is often much cross-over between the different divisions, however.  For example, an individual may live in a Charles River staffed home and attend our Day Habilitation program during the day.  Or an individual may live with family at home, but may attend our Employment Services program and attend Family Support outings on the weekends.

Whatever your needs, the competent and caring staff at the Charles River Center will work with you to create a plan that works best for you and your family.

Employment Services

Assisted by job coaches, many participants in this program are placed individually or as a member of a crew in jobs within a variety of community businesses.  Others participate in Opportunities and Visions, an integrated work and community inclusion program. Job training and employment are at the forefront, but individuals also volunteer in the community, exercise at the YMCA, take computer and cooking classes, and take part in other meaningful activities. Individuals can also work on-site in Needham where mailings, simple assembly and packaging jobs are completed for local businesses.  All individuals are encouraged to explore career interests and develop skills for future job placements.

Day Habilitation

Available to adults with complex needs, these programs offer physical, occupational, speech and music therapies with full-time nursing supervision. Participants focus on maximizing daily living skills, volunteerism and engaging activities such as cooking, computer use, music, arts and crafts and fitness.

Residential Services

Charles River provides housing to adults with developmental disabilities in Needham, Newton, Wellesley, Natick and other MetroWest communities.  Assistance varies from intensive staffing for some residences to intermittent assistance for individuals living in their own apartments.  Individuals are assisted with meal preparation, personal care and hygiene, and social skill development.  All are encouraged to develop friendships in their neighborhoods and to participate in community events.

Family Support

This division offers a broad range of recreational programs, advocacy services, educational seminars and a multitude of resources to participating families.  From after school and vacation programs for children to extended day recreational activities for adults to the Ellie Bloom Olympics for all, Family Support empowers families with information, helps them network with community resources and provides support and relief from the constant care required by a child or adult with a developmental disability.

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