Frontline Initiative Stress and Burnout

UCP of Los Angeles:
Part of a National Network of Resources


Ronald S. Cohen is Executive Director of UCP of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in Van Nuys, California

Founded in 1944, United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles was established by a small group of parents united by a common bond to provide loving support and much needed care for their children with severe disabilities. Over the past 50 years, while remaining faithful to this mission, the organization has grown to become part of a nationwide network of approximately 150 state and local agencies which constitute one of the largest health care associations in America. UCP is a leading supporter of medical and scientific research in developmental disabilities. Other services provided include information and referral services, sponsores social programs, and community advocacy.

The breadth of services has grown out of UCP’s commitment to serve the widely varying needs of those with developmental disabilities. Cerebral Palsy, for example, is a group of conditions, not a disease. Most often it is caused by damage to the brain, usually during pregnancy, labor, or shortly following birth. Even though the condition does not progress, it is permanent. Thus, individuals with Cerebral Palsy may have mild to severe life-long difficulties with movement, balance, posture, speech, sight and/or mental retardation. Each year about 4,500 infants are born with cerebral palsy; and roughly 500-1000 pre-school age children acquire the condition annually. It is estimated that 500,000 children and adults in the United States manifest one or more of the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy. The individuals served by UCP of Los Angeles also include children and adults with all other developmental disabilities.

UCP of Los Angeles has expanded over the years to include the widest continuum of programs and services providing direct care to children and adults with severe disabilities in Southern California. Daily services to 600 families include independent living services as well as residential and adult education services for those who need a higher level of care.

As a leader in developing independent living housing, UCP has worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development on an innovative program for individuals with developmental disabilities that provides low cost and fully accessible housing. The latest addition is a $4.4 million development grant reservation by HUD to be used in the construction of four 13-unit apartment buildings. This grant fills the need of allowing people with developmental disabilities to maximize their potential by living dignified lives as productive members of our community. 

In addition to independent living housing, UCP of Los Angeles provides residential programs that exist in neighborhoods throughout greater Southern California. At these sites, individuals with a range of developmental disabilities live in physical environments that are user friendly and designed to help them to assume responsibility for their daily needs and personal care. Each building is close to stores, public transportation and entertainment venues.