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Criteria, Tuition & Evaluation

Supporting your desire and ability to live independently.

Participant Criteria

The Transition Academy is designed for residents who:

  • Are 18 years of age or older.
  • Have a diagnosis of autism.
  • Are able to function without attendant care.
  • Have completed a high school or learning resource program.
  • Have no current or chronic history of arrest or probation, or history of inflicting harm to him/herself or others.
  • Give written consent to inform about, and include parents in, addressing issues posing a threat to independent living.
  • Agree to attend and participate in the First Place® program and required curriculum.
  • Possess self-help skills and be able to safely function in his/her own apartment without direct supervision during non-program hours.
  • Express desire to participate in the program and be motivated to live independently.
  • Agree to the time frame of the program hours, to honor the First Place rules and to participate in training and instruction during those hours.
  • Recognize that, upon acceptance, all participants are on a probationary status until successful completion of one semester.

Academy participants take part in interviews; family members or legal guardians may also be involved.

If you meet these criteria and are interested in learning more about the curriculum for adults with autism at the First Place Transition Academy, please complete a registration form.


The two-year Transition Academy is currently operating from a beta site in Phoenix called 29 Palms, where participants reside in two-bedroom apartments, also known as independent-living classrooms. Nine two-bedroom units for Transition Academy participants are co-located with 12 multigenerational units for non-First Place residents. 

Starting in 2018, annual Transition Academy tuition is $48,000 ($4,000 per month), which includes the apartment lease, utilities, community college tuition and instruction. Participants will live at First Place–Phoenix in one of the four four-bedroom suites during their first year and reside at 29 Palms during their second year as they progress to more independent living. The Transition Academy represents one of two residential options offered by First Place. The second option is the First Place Apartments.

Evaluation Steps

The information listed above is reviewed upon receipt. If the applicant does not meet the entrance criteria, written notification is sent to the applicant and parent(s) or guardian(s).

If the applicant meets the entrance criteria, the First Place Transition Academy Program Assistant will contact you about next steps.

The interview committee assesses whether:

  • The applicant chooses to participate in the First Place Transition Academy program.
  • The applicant has the motivation and ability to complete the program in the expected time frame.
  • The applicant’s individual needs can be appropriately served by the program staff and/or community resources.
  • The program is able to provide the least restrictive environment for the applicant.
  • The applicant is prepared to enter the program. If not, the interview committee will make suggestions to help the applicant better prepare him/herself before being accepted to the program.
  • The entrance criteria has been met.
  • The applicant is not officially accepted until after a second interview is conducted.

The purpose of the second interview is to:

  • Assess whether the applicant still chooses to enter the Transition Academy Program.
  • Evaluate the progress of the applicant’s preparation to enter the program.
  • Reassess whether the program can meet the applicant’s individual needs.
  • Ensure the applicant understands the program requirements and agrees to honor the Transition Academy policies and procedures.
  • Allow the applicant to experience another incremental phase of transition prior to entry.

Interview Procedure

Applicant interviews are part of the evaluation process, but they are not the total basis for deciding whether the applicant will be added to the waiting list. In addition to the information gathered during the on-site evaluation interview, we will request information from the referring agency that documents an applicant’s disability and outlines the social, educational and vocational history of the applicant. We will also request that you obtain information from teachers, doctors and supervisors, if available.

  • When the application packet and all of the requested materials have been received, the screening committee will review the information. If the documentation indicates the First Place® program is not an appropriate program for the applicant, or the applicant does not meet the entrance requirements, an interview will not be scheduled and the applicant will receive a letter of non-acceptance.
  • If the screening committee decides that the First Place Transition Academy may be appropriate, an interview will be scheduled. Applicants are contacted and informed of the date and time of the interview.
  • The evaluation interview is crucial to the success of the potential participant and the First Place Transition Academy program. Ideally, the participant will have taken a prior tour and have some knowledge of what they will learn at First Place. The applicant will be taken to a separate area from the parent(s) or guardian(s) for his/her interview. The parent(s) or guardian(s) will meet with staff to receive more information and to sign documents. The interview process includes a visit to the campus, explanation of the program, tour of the 29 Palms area (if no prior tour was arranged), a Q&A period for the family and the interview of the applicant with the evaluation committee. (29 Palms is a multi-generational apartment property, which is the location of the First Place Transition Academy beta site.)
  • The interview gives prospective participants the opportunity to tell the committee about themselves. We believe this interview and visit also enable applicants to be better prepared to make a decision whether they choose to enter the program.
  • The First Place interview procedure is structured to identify whether applicants are extremely motivated and express a commitment to live independently, increasing the likelihood that individuals are prepared to complete the program.