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The Expansion of Sheltered Day Programs

The expansion of day activity centers and sheltered workshops was aided by the 1963 Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act (P.L. 88-164). The federal government provided financial aid for building community based facilities, including day facilities for people with developmental disabilities and people with mental illness.

The 1965 Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendments (P.L. 89-333) required that vocational rehabilitation services be provided to people with severe disabilities. It allowed extended evaluation periods for persons with developmental disabilities and similar disabilities.

Day program expansion was particularly strong in terms of day activity centers. Between 1952 and 1964, ARCs developed only 94 day activity centers. In 1964, another 91 new programs were being planned, beginning a period of major expansion. Over 600 new centers were established between 1964 and 1972.

People working inside
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

By 1972,  Minnesota had the most activity centers (86) of any state, and according to the President's Committee on Mental Retardation (PCMR), had "taken the lead in not only having the most activity centers but also in the important area of establishing standards for the operation of these programs."

Photos: The photographs in this presentation come from a scrapbook of the Metro Work Center that depicts scenes from the day program in 1960s. The Metro Work Center is located in south Minneapolis.
Activity book cover
Photos courtesy
William Bronston, M.D.
Books on a table
Photos courtesy William Bronston, M.D.