The Exceptional Children’s Foundation has been a proud member of the Greater Los Angeles community since 1946. Learn about our growth and expansion over the years to better meet the changing needs of young children, students, and adults with special needs.


  • ECF celebrated its 70th year of service on February 6th, and hosted a memorable gala celebration in honor of this milestone on April 24th.

  • Kayne Eras Center received accreditation from Western Association of Schools and Colleges, demonstrating a deep commitment to providing a high quality learning environment and meeting rigorous research-based standards.
  • Through a competitive bid process, ECF was awarded the opportunity to purchase a historic landmark building to convert it into a permanent location for one of our four art centers. Our new South Los Angeles Art Center studio is housed in the former LAFD Engine House No. 18.
  • ECF purchased and renovated a facility in the South Bay to permanently house our San Pedro Art Center studio.
  • ECF partnered with online retailer Amazon.com as part of its Fine Art Sales Initiative. ECF’s Downtown Art Gallery (DAC), operated by the Downtown Art Center program, is one of a few galleries in the country selected to join the program. Over 1,000 pieces of artwork produced by ECF client artists became available for sale on Amazon, which has over 200 million customers worldwide. To learn more, visit: www.ECFonAmazon.com.
  • Patterned after other valued ECF support groups, Board Member Steve Jordan assembled young businessmen and women and created an Emerging Leaders group to build awareness and raise funds for ECF in 2013.
  • ECF’s Downtown Art Center (DAC) Gallery moved to a new location with improved studio space and closer to hotels and restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles in May 2014.
  • Full-time staff grew to 350.
  • Launched a social media initiative that promoted brand consistency across key social platforms and promoted conversations with a myriad of core audiences
  • Welcomed first woman in 60 years as Board Chair on July 1, 2014: Shelley I. Smith, Esq.

  • Based on national recognition for its exemplary work, and artists receiving critical acclaim in juried art shows, ECF opened its second Art Center, which was the first of its kind in the South Bay. Further, the demand for more fine arts training for adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities encouraged the expansion of ECF’s Art Center program to two additional sites: in Downtown Los Angeles and Culver City.
  • Established ECF’s first residential Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) licensed by the Department of Health Services for adults who required more intensive care and supervision. The success of this first facility in Reseda paved the way for the establishment of two additional ICFs later in the decade.
  • Launched Board of Governors with induction of first Governor, Larry Hagman. Another prominent community leader, Olympic athlete Rafer Johnson, joined the group. This group has grown to include nine members – all leaders in their fields.
  • Acquired from another nonprofit (Westside Opportunity Workshop, aka WOW) ECF’s first group home for adults with special needs on the Westside of Los Angeles.
  • ECF headquarters relocated to Culver City in April 2002.
  • ECF significantly expanded its continuum of services with the merger with Kayne Eras Center, a multi-service center providing specialized K-12 educational and therapeutic support services for students with special needs.
  • Residential Services Program expanded with the acquisition of two additional 6-bed group homes in Culver City.

  • Contracts for recycling services performed by ECF work teams were signed with Santa Monica and Culver City.
  • ECF launched a nationally-recognized health and fitness model for seniors with developmental disabilities.
  • ECF artists gained national attention when their work was featured at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
  • ECF secured a $975,000 annual janitorial contract for a Supported Employment work team at the Federal Building in Westwood.
  • Robert D. Shushan, Ed.D., retired as the President and CEO following 40 years of leadership.
  • Scott D. Bowling, Psy.D., was hired as President and CEO.

  • In 1982, with the support of family and friends, Dale Fukamaki created the “First Ever” Golf Tournament to benefit ECF, and the successful event has been an annual fundraiser for more than 30 years.
  • With one of eight grants made nationally, launched Supported Employment Program, which worked with employers to place adults with developmental disabilities into community jobs. Typical placements include: clerical, janitorial, grounds maintenance, food service, and grocery clerks; with many clients staying in positions for 10+ years.
  • ECF Supported Employment work team earned a three-year, $1.8 million contract for janitorial services at the Ronald Reagan Building in Downtown Los Angeles.
  • First Supported Employment worker was placed in a job at Holiday Inn.
  • ECF won a multi-million dollar federal government contract for PAR Services clients to manufacture file organizers – this contract continues to the present.
  • Rockwell International commissions ECF artists to create art for its corporate headquarters.
  • The first federally subsidized housing in the west for people with disabilities was established by ECF through the Department of Housing and Urban Development; two separate apartment buildings dedicated to house ECF clients.
  • A group home in Reseda was built to house clients who require some supervision to live relatively independently.

  • ECF became a pioneer in the early intervention movement by establishing an Infant Development Program – now called Early Start, which provides support to families with children 0-3 with developmental delays. The program provides specialized early childhood therapy and parent education.
  • Opened first Developmental Activity Center designed to help youth and adults with developmental disabilities to acquire skills and support to allow them to function more fully as members of the community.
  • ECF Headquarters and Art Center Program moved to a new facility on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.

  • Launched two additional Work Activity Centers: in Whittier and Torrance.
  • In conjunction with the Otis Arts Institute, opened first Art Center Program, recognizing that individuals with developmental disabilities have the ability to excel in creating fine art.
  • SHARE sponsored first of numerous art exhibits of ECF artists’ work.

  • Established several service components, including: Summer Camps and Weekend Recreational Programs, which offered children and youth opportunities to participate in organized sports and game experiences.
  • A Child Guidance and Counseling Center, the first service of its kind west of the Mississippi.
  • Work Activity Center, which offered adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to “earn while they learn.” Participant workers learn specific job tasks, as well as appropriate work habits and social skills, while fulfilling contract work from government and community employers. Work tasks focus on collating, stuffing and assembly; and in subsequent years, activities expanded to include blister packaging, heat-sealing, and shrink wrapping.
  • Residential Program, which offered adults with developmental disabilities safe and comfortable housing combined with in-home living skills training and supportive services. A primary goal of the program is to foster the highest level of independence through full and proactive home and community involvement.
  • SHARE, Inc., a prominent Hollywood women’s philanthropic group, adopted ECF, initiating a commitment of support that has continued for over 60 years.
  • Hired first Executive Director, Robert D. Shushan, Ed.D., who served in this leadership capacity for 40 years.

History 1940

  • A small group of parents created the first daycare and training program for children with developmental disabilities in Los Angeles.