As your child makes the transition to adulthood, you might be looking for programs that will help them build their skills, make new friends and schedule their days. Day habilitation could be a fit for your adult child after they age out of high school if they won’t be working at a job or going to college or another school. Day habilitation is usually paid for by a waiver program, if your child is able to get those services.
Day habilitation programs help people work on their own goals. These programs happen during weekdays, usually for 5 or 6 hours a day at a place in the community. They might also be called adult day care or day services. Participants do activities to learn important skills:
Each day habilitation program is different. They often focus on connecting participants to the community and to jobs or job skills.
If your child is in a group home, that group home might use a day habilitation program for its residents.
There are day habilitation programs that also have residential programs where a young adult lives. These programs charge fees. You and your young adult should weigh their options and choose what best fits the family as a whole. Your young adult may choose other housing options instead.
Texas and disability advocates are working to make day habilitation programs more regulated. Part of this is to make sure that there are meaningful activities. And activities that help your child build job skills if that is one of their goals. The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities explains more on their page on day habilitation.
Day habilitation programs should use a person-centered planning approach. This means that they see each young adult as an individual with personal goals. You can read more on our person-centered planning page. When you are looking for a program, you can ask if they use person-centered planning.
Day habilitation is usually part of a person’s Medicaid waiver service plan. Families can also pay for it on their own. Some programs might be free. If you think that your child might be able to use day habilitation in the future, read more about waivers and sign up now. The waiver interest lists are many years long.
To find a program, use the Texas Health and Human Services search for long-term care programs, including daytime programs for adults. They also have some inspection information on the programs.
Day habilitation programs for young adults with disabilities and special health care needs are different than adult day care programs for older adults.
It can take some time to find the right program for your child. Some parents have found it stressful or confusing. Don’t give up after the first try if it doesn’t work. Keep looking for one that fits your child’s goals and needs, and that makes you and your child feel comfortable.
When looking at programs, here are some things to ask and think about:
With the answers to your questions, you can think about:
Check in or visit at different times of the day. Make visits with a friend or other parent if you can. You can tell a lot about a program when you walk through the door. Talk with other parents about your search.
As one parent put it:
“About six of us visited day habs with our friend who was considering her options. It helped to have us all thinking of questions as we met with each director, then discuss afterwards. I would tell parents to visit as many as you can and not be alone for this.”
Some Medicaid waiver programs pay for day habilitation, including:
If you are paying on your own, the costs are different by program. The Adult Day Care Services Association estimated them to be $17,000 per year. And they estimate that this can be a lot cheaper than a residential program. Easter Seals estimates $40–$100 per day for services. They might also be cheaper, depending on where you live. There might be financial help. Call or email a program to learn about cost options.
Across the country, parents of young adults with disabilities and special health care needs are starting to create their own programs too. Sometimes they work with churches, rent a space or get creative in other ways. Day habilitation is one type of program that can help young adults with disabilities and special health care needs once they are out of school. Connect with other parents for ideas and support.