On a typical day at the Special Learning Center, you will find our team of teachers, therapists, childcare professionals and administrators hard at work helping children with developmental delays and disabilities reach their maximum potential. Let’s take a walk through the Center and see what’s happening today!
As we walk into the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) department, we will find six classrooms filled with children between the ages of 3-5 who are preparing for kindergarten or their next educational placement. Children in our ECSE classes have been identified by their referring school district as needing additional educational support before entering school. You will also see two classrooms of two year old children who are in our First Steps early intervention program. They are learning socialization skills with their young peers.
Let’s continue down the hall to our Therapy Department. Our great team of physical, occupational and speech therapists work to help children walk, talk and perform simple everyday tasks. As an example, one of our occupational therapists is working with a four-year-old to help her develop the skills needed to blow out the candles on her 5th birthday. We all know that you make a wish before blowing out the candles. For this little girl, blowing out the candles is the wish come true! Through our educational-based therapy as well as our pediatric medical-based therapy and our innovative intensive therapy program, children are defying the odds and overcoming great barriers to help them lead a more independent and productive life.
As we walk into our Crayon Kids Childcare program, you will find what appears to be a traditional childcare setting, but Crayon Kids is far from traditional! We offer one of the only programs in the Capital City Area that provides childcare to children with special needs. Most childcare centers are not equipoised to take children with disabilities. When you walk into a Crayon Kids room, you will find a team of dedicated childcare professionals who are providing a nurturing environment for children with a variety of developmental delays and disabilities. For working families, we are their lifeline.
But that is only half of what we do! Outside of our facility, you find many therapists who travel to school districts and provide therapy services to school-age children in their schools. You will find our First Steps therapy team who travel to the homes of children between the ages of birth and two to provide very early intervention services to infants who were born premature or with a diagnosis at birth. Very early intervention is critical to a child’s long-term success. Finally, you will find our Capable Kids & Families support team planning respite activities, monthly family events and checking in with families on home visits to ensure they have the support systems they need to be successful.
Regardless of where you look at Special Learning Center, you will find dedicated staff changing the lives of some of the most fragile children in our community. We can’t do it without you! Through our wonderful donors and United Way, we offer our services to over 800 children in central Missouri. United Way and our donors provide the funding that closes the gap between the cost of our services and the funding we receive from schools, grants and other entities. Our goal is to not put additional financial burdens on our families, so we are grateful to United Way and you for helping us keep our doors open.
As a partner agency United Way not only helps us with our overall operations, they provide us extra grants when we find ourselves in need of something unique. For example, last year, our school bus stopped running. With the help of United Way, we were able to purchase a “new to us” school bus for the Center. Our kids love it and our bus driver thinks it’s the best thing since “sliced bread”!
How can you continue to help the Special Learning Center and our kids? For one, come out on Friday, April 22 and enjoy all you can eat ribs at our 15th Annual Capital City Cook-Off. It’s a great way to sample ribs from the best pit masters in central Missouri and help our kids. Another great way to help the Center is to continue supporting the United Way. Without the United Way, we would lose significant funding for our children. Equally as important, we would lose the networking capabilities and access to critical non-monetary resources the United Way provides such as valuable training for our staff. United Way is the thread that binds our community together. Special Learning Center is proud to be a part of that community tapestry that is making central Missouri a best place to live and work.
Story by Stephanie Johnson, Special Learning Center | March 2022