Special Service for Groups (SSG) and Occupational Therapy Training Program (OTTP) in LA History
SSG began during World War II as a result of the Los Angeles “zoot suit riots.” Brewing civil unrest during that time resulted in American sailors attacking Mexican American youth on the streets of Los Angeles, causing a national outrage. To address the issue, the Community Chest (now known as the United Way) formed a ‘special services unit’ to attend to the youth’s recreational and social needs. In 1952, after eight years of operating programs for teenagers, Special Service for Groups incorporated. SSG’s first years offered outreach services to many minority gangs in Los Angeles, operating the most intensive gang counseling program in the United States at the time.
During the 1960′s, SSG began to expand to address other social problems through programs in areas such as job training and placement, education, housing, and political action and advocacy.
In 1975, the Occupational Therapy Training Program was developed by a master’s level occupational therapy student from the University of Sothern California who conducted her thesis project with youth on probation residing in local group homes and enrolled in a community court school. The project that she developed focused on the development of pre-vocational skills and healthy copings skills. Youth achieved such positive outcomes that the program was embraced under the umbrella of SSG, and soon thereafter was funded through the Department of Labor.
Since its inception in 1975, OTTP’s unique, culturally competent, community based model has integrated the evidence based practice of cognitive-behavioral therapy and occupational therapy in producing positive outcomes for youth at-risk of, or currently in the juvenile justice system. The ultimate goal of our program is to decrease risk behaviors by engaging youth in meaningful, purposeful activities that result in positive future orientation and goal fulfillment. OTTP’s model is based on the social development model (SDM), which expands upon Hirschi’s (1969) social control theory hypothesizing that delinquent behavior is prevented by high levels of social bonding to conventional others. In keeping with its roots in the profession of occupational therapy (OT), OTTP has combined the SDM with two well-respected models in the field of OT, Cognitive-Behavioral Model and Gary Kielhofner’s Model of Human Occupations (MOHO). These models emphasize the importance of competence in occupational performances (collectively known as occupation) of school/work, play/leisure/recreation and activities of daily living. OTTP draws upon these models to develop comprehensive and effective interventions for our clients.