Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Services
Spring classes are currently on hold, and summer camp registration is postponed until further notice. See "registering a child with a disability" tab for more information
San Francisco Recreation and Park’s Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Services division provides specialized therapeutic and adaptive recreation programs for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing or who have disabilities. Our current program offerings include after school programs, teen programs, swimming, gardening, Inclusion Week at Camp Mather, summer day camps, and special events. We also provide inclusion services for any program Recreation and Parks offers.
For more information about our specialized Therapeutic Recreation programs or Inclusion Services, contact us at:
- 415-206-1546; 415-242-5700(VP)
Registration is postponed until further notice. Once registration opens, SUBMIT ACCOMMODATION REQUESTS RIGHT AFTER YOU REGISTER
- The deadline for new families to contact our office to get set up for day camp registration will be reassessed once registration opens
- Summer day camp postponed until further notice
- Deadline to request extra staff support for summer day camps will be reassessed once registration opens
Summer day camp registration has been postponed until further notice
New families of children with disabilities should still contact our office, to be set up in our system so you can register for Therapeutic Recreation programs once registration opens.
Assessment appointments canceled until further notice
All Leisure and Functional Abilities in-person assessments have been canceled until further notice. You can contact our office and we can send you our form to fill out and return.
Requesting accommodations and extra staff support
Submit your accommodations requests, including for extra staff support, by filling out our Accommodations Request Form. Remember, the deadline to submit requests for extra staff support for summer 2020 is April 10 at 11:59pm.
To find information about registering for programs, to view or download registration catalogs, or to register for programs/camps when registration opens, visit our registration site.
Pro-tip: be sure your family account is set up and you have your camps selected before registration begins!
Contact us if you have any questions, or if you need help filling out the accommodations request form:
firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-206-1546 (V), 415-242-5700 (VP)
How do I register for programs, classes, or camps?
How do I contact Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Services?
What services do you offer?
- We offer specialized Adaptive Recreation and Therapeutic Recreation programs for children, teens, transition-age youth, and adults with disabilities, and Inclusion Support for individuals with disabilities throughout all of San Francisco Recreation and Park's programs, events, and facilities.
What are specialized Adaptive Recreation and Therapeutic Recreation programs?
- Adaptive Recreation (AR) programs are programs where certain aspects of the program have been adapted to work with a specific population. For example, our American Sign Language (ASL) programs are staffed by native speakers and others who are fluent in ASL, and our Inclusion at Eco Camp program provides staff at a higher staff to participant ratio, and the staff are also trained to work with children with disabilities.
- Therapeutic Recreation (TR) programs are usually provide staff at a higher staff to participant ratio, who are also trained to work with children with disabilities, as well as a well-structured, specialized curricula, designed to help participants achieve social, physical, and life-skill goals. Everybody Plays, Teen City, and our ACCESS Academy are examples of TR programs.
What are the eligibility requirements for San Francisco Recreation and Park Department programs?
- Participation in many of our programs is dependent upon the participant meeting eligibility requirements that apply to everyone. Eligibility requirements can be things like age, height, prerequisite skills, and residency. Most of the requirements are listed in the program descriptions. With the exception of programs where a caregiver is required to attend, most Recreation and Park programs require that participants be independent with personal care, such as toileting and taking medications.
What is SFRPD's Behavior Policy?
- We strive to use positive approaches to behavior management, and we will work with participants and families when behaviors arise. We will only dismiss a participant in extreme situations and/or after we have worked with the participant and family to explore all other options. Letting us know before the program begins of any behavior issues, triggers, etc., will help us to work with your child.
Do I need to be a resident of San Francisco to receive Inclusion Services?
- Recipients of Inclusion Services must meet the eligibility requirements for the specific SFRPD program. If the program is open to nonresidents, then our Inclusion Services can support participants who are not residents of San Francisco.
What types of Inclusion Services do you provide?
- Upon completion of a recreation assessment, a support plan is created for participants. For some settings, support and information is provided to existing program staff. In other settings, a support staff person may accompany a participant with a disability to whichever program he or she is signed up for. Support staff people are not provided without a completed, up to date Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities assessment, completed by SFRPD, and Inclusion Services, working with the family, will make the determination of whether a support staff person is needed for an individual.
What is an Inclusion Support staff person?
- An 'Inclusion Support staff person' is similar to what is often called a '1:1 aide,' or a 'shadow aide,' but we prefer the term 'Inclusion Support,' because we feel it connotes providing an additional staff person to an existing program, to facilitate inclusion of the participant by supporting the participant, the staff, and the program. Our Inclusion Services team will work with the family to determine whether a support staff person is needed. A child has an aide in a school setting may not need the same support in a recreation setting.
How do I qualify for Inclusion Services?
- In order to qualify for Inclusion Services, participants must be registered for a San Francisco Recreation and Parks program and complete a recreation assessment with one of our CTRSs. Also, the family must make a request for accommodations within a reasonable amount of time before the start of the program or event, to allow us to fill the request.
What is your Inclusion Process?
- New participants: contact us to ensure you are in our system. Our specialized Therapeutic Recreation and Adaptive Recreation programs require pre-authorization for registration, and you will not be able to register for these specialized programs unless you are pre-authorized. We do this to prevent people without disabilities taking up slots that are reserved for people with disabilities.
- Sign up for the class or program through the Registration office, online at org/register, or at any one of our Neighborhood Registration sites
- Fill out our online Registration Information form at org/tr
- You can call us at 415-206-1546 (V) or 415-242-5700 (VP) if you need assistance with the online form
- New participants: our staff will contact you to schedule a Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment.
- Returning participants: our staff will contact you if you need to update your assessment. Regardless of whether your assessment needs to be updated, please let us know if there is any new information that will help us support the participant.
- IMPORTANT NOTES: for summer day camp there is a deadline, posted on our website, for families to fill out the online form to request accommodations, such as extra staff support. If you do not submit the request by the deadline, you will be placed on a waiting list. Further, our ability to provide extra staff support is dependent on the number of trained staff we have available, so we may be forced to conduct a lottery for certain peak times if demand exceeds our capacity. See “Is an Inclusion Support staff person (or 1:1 aide) guaranteed?” below for more details.
- Working with the family, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) will determine the participant's level of support needed and create an individualized Support Plan.
- The Support Plan will be shared with the participant’s parents/guardians and program/camp staff.
- A CTRS will monitor the participant's progress, and act as a resource to parents, participants, and program staff.
- A CTRS will evaluate the effectiveness of the individualized Support Plan to help ensure success.
Note: Our ability to provide support staff and other accommodations may be limited due to the number of requests and the availability of trained staff, especially during peak times.
We strive to provide enriching recreation programming in the least restrictive environment possible. To this end, we work with families to determine whether extra staff support is needed. A child who has 1:1 support in school may not need the same type of support in a recreation program, so we don’t automatically provide extra support just because the family requests it. Further, our ability to provide extra staff support is limited by the number of requests and the availability of trained staff, especially during peak times.
- For this reason, we cannot guarantee there will be a trained, qualified support staff person available to work with your child
- To help ensure availability, be sure to fill out the Registration Info form right after you register (and by the deadline for summer camp) at sfrecpark.org/tr.
We may be forced to conduct a lottery for certain peak times if demand exceeds our capacity. This is most likely for certain weeks of summer day camp. In addition, we may give higher priority in the lottery to children who have received fewer or no weeks of staff support during a season.
What is a Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment? Why do we need one?
- During our assessment, one of our Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRSs) meets with a parent/guardian and the child. This allows us to get to know the parent/guardian and participant. We use a Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment; the assessment is not a diagnostic tool. The information collected from the assessment is used to best support our participants and create individualized goals to provide a successful program experience.
How often does the Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment need to be updated?
- The Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment must be updated every three (3) years, or if we or the parents/guardians feel there have been significant changes that justify updating the assessment sooner.
Do I have to complete a Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment for specialized Adaptive Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation programs, or Inclusion Services?
- Yes. In order for a participant to be considered for most Adaptive Recreation programs, Therapeutic Recreation programs, or Inclusion Services, the participant must complete an assessment with one of our Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRSs). If the participant is under 18, a parent/guardian must be present. The assessment is needed so we can best support each participant.
How long does the Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment take?
- Our recreation assessments usually take about one hour to complete.
Do we need to complete another Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment if we completed one in the past?
- Our assessments are valid for a maximum of three (3) years. We reassess so we can best support participants as they grow and change over time. If the last assessment was administered over three (3) years ago, please contact us to schedule a reassessment.
Is there a cost for a Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment and/or Inclusion Services?
- Assessments and Inclusion Services are free for participants registered in our programs. There is no additional charge for support. Remember that extra staff support is not guaranteed (see “Is an Inclusion Support staff person (or 1:1 aide) guaranteed?” below for more details), so filling out the Registration Info form at sfrecpark.org/tr immediately after you register will help ensure availability.
Should I register for a program before I have completed the Leisure Interest and Functional Abilities Assessment?
- Yes. Because camps and programs fill up quickly, we do not want you to wait to register. New families: be sure to contact our office for pre-authorization, to allow you to register for specialized Adaptive Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation programs.
Is an Inclusion Support staff person (or 1:1 'aide') guaranteed?
- Our ability to provide support staff is limited by the number of requests and the availability of trained staff, especially during peak times. For this reason, we cannot guarantee there will be a trained, qualified support staff person available. Contacting us immediately after registration will give us the best chance to create a Support Plan and provide the support or accommodations needed.
What if I register for a program, and you are not able to provide support?
- In most cases, if you have given us ample time to complete an assessment and arrange accommodations and/or supports, we can offer a refund or credit to your account if we are unable to provide support. If you do not give us enough time, or you change your mind about the camp or program at the last minute--or after the program begins--we will not be able to offer a refund or credit.
Can I provide my own 1:1 aide, support person, therapist, caregiver, or personal assistant?
- Yes, you can provide your own 1:1 aide, support person, therapist, or personal assistant. In order to have an outside adult work with a participant during SFRPD programs, you must follow these guidelines:
- The person you are providing must be at least 18 years of age.
- For the safety of all SFRPD participants, all outside adults must complete a background check through SFRPD. Processing takes at least one (1) month, so be sure to contact us immediately after registration if you plan to send someone to support the participant.
- Therapists who are providing their services through an agency that requires them to have background checks may be able to share the background check information with us, provided the therapist is working for the other agency while present at the program.
- If it is an individual providing therapy services, we ask the therapy session is scheduled at a time which doesn't interfere with the child being included in program activities.
- Adults who are not providing services as above must complete an SFRPD background check, even if they have had background checks completed for other jobs are volunteer positions. This is because SFRPD only receives alerts about changes in someone’s history if he/she has completed the check with SFRPD.
Does Therapeutic Recreation & Inclusion Services provide transportation?
- Therapeutic Recreation & Inclusion Services does not provide transportation to and from our facilities or programs. It is the responsibility of the participant and participant's family to provide transportation. We do sometimes provide transportation for field trips that are part of our camps and programs.
What kind of experience and background do your staff people have? What kind of training do your support staff people receive?
- Our team of staff people have a diverse background in working with individuals with disabilities. Some of our staff are college students studying Child Development, Special Education, Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy and more. We also hire many paraprofessionals and ABA therapists. While many of our staff have years of experience, some of our entry-level staff, including Camp Assistants and youth hired through our Workreation program, may have little experience; but we ensure that they are passionate about working with people with disabilities and we give them the necessary training.
- When training staff, we focus on relevant topics including, but not limited to: disability awareness, person first language and attitude, behavioral triggers, behavioral management, department-specific policies, safety, privacy, customer service and more! Please note that our staff are not formally trained to provide personal care (toileting, feeding, etc.).
Do your staff provide personal care assistance (toileting, feeding, changing, etc.) or medication administration?
- San Francisco Recreation and Park employees are not trained to administer medication or provide personal care. San Francisco Recreation and Park employees may assist with medication, but cannot administer medication; participants must be independent with taking medication.
- If a participant needs assistance with personal care (dressing, toileting, feeding, etc.) in an Inclusion setting (a general recreation camp or program), please arrange a personal assistant or caregiver.
- If a participant needs assistance with personal care in one of our specialized Adaptive Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation programs, we are more likely to be able to provide these kinds of accommodations, but we cannot guarantee it. If the participant needs special equipment (diapers, wipes, special food, medications etc.), it is your responsibility to provide those items and ensure they are up to date and replenished. For additional questions or concerns with personal care, contact the TR & Inclusion Services Office so we can work together to support the participant.
Can my child's 1:1 aide, paraprofessional, personal assistant or caregiver get paid through SFRPD?
- San Francisco Recreation and Parks is only authorized to pay SFRPD employees or approved vendors. For that reason, we cannot pay an aide, personal assistant, or caregiver unless he/she is an employee of SFRPD.
Are you hiring?
- We are always looking for qualified, compassionate individuals to work in our specialized Therapeutic Recreation programs and camps, and in our Inclusion Services. If you know anyone interested, please have him or her get in contact with us right away at Note that our hiring process takes almost three months to complete, so candidates should apply early. !
How do I stay informed about important information, registration dates, programs, and events?
- Engaging Autism: Helping Children Relate, Communicate and Think with the DIR Floortime Approach by Stanley I. Greenspan
- Replays: Using Play to Enhance Emotional And Behavioral Development for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder by Karen Levine
- You're Going to Love This Kid!: Teaching Students With Autism in the Inclusive Classroom by Paula Kluth
- Peer Play and the Autism Spectrum: The Art of Guiding Children's Socialization and Imagination by Pamela J. Wolfberg
- At the End of the Day, Lessons Learned in Inclusive Education by Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Mary Fisher, & Debbie Staub
- Send in the Idiots: Stories from the Other Side of Autism by Kamran Nazeer.
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
- Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism by Paul Collins
- Caged in Chaos, A Dyspraxic Guide to Breaking Free by Victoria Biggs
- Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Seven Keys to Unlock Autism: Making Miracles In The Classroom by Elaine Hall and Diane Issacs
- Mockingbird by Kathyrn Erskine