Corporate Responsibility

Making a difference with The Children’s School for Early Development

Posted by: Tom Taddeo Tom Taddeo
on March 24, 2015

At Kimco we are fortunate to have the opportunity to get involved with organizations across the country, donating time and resources in support of meaningful causes. Giving back to the communities in which we operate is something that fulfills many of us personally, and is of such value to Kimco that we make it a top priority in our corporate responsibility efforts.

The Arc of Westchester is one such organization. The Arc’s 800 employees, along with its supporters, are committed to helping improve the lives of others by creating a world in which children, teens, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can enjoy fulfilled, happy lives.

The Arc has provided more than 2,000 individuals throughout the Westchester County access to a range of programs and services designed to foster independence, productivity, and participation in their community. As part of those services, the Arc’s Children’s School for Early Development (CSED) provides educational, social, and support services for children and their families, and has grown to be the region’s largest provider of community-based services for children with developmental disabilities.

Recently, Kimco donated laptops as part of our effort to help the Arc of Westchester and the CSED achieve their mission of providing staff with necessary tools to complete their work, and bringing enhanced computing access to partners and program participants.

As March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we wanted to share with you more about this nonprofit organization for individuals with developmental disabilities, and how we are collaborating together to make a positive change in our communities. We spoke with Regina Moore, the Marketing Manager at Arc of Westchester, and Marci Roth, MSEd, LMSW, Preschool Evaluation Coordinator at The Children’s School for Early Development. Here’s what they shared with us.

Can you give us a brief history of how The Arc came to be?

Regina Moore & Marci Roth: It all began 65 years ago with a $3 ad that was placed in The New York Post by a parent desperate to find some playmates for her child with a developmental disability. In 1949, a small group of equally frustrated mothers and fathers gathered at the Mount Vernon Public Library to discuss ways of helping their children. It was during this little gathering that the Westchester Association for the Help of Retarded Children (Westchester AHRC) was born.

A few months later, the new Westchester group purchased the house at 975 Split Rock Road in Pelham and fought — and won through court action — the right to have a school there.

In 1951, the first parents’ cooperative day school for children in New York State was opened. This was the modest beginnings of Arc of Westchester, which subsequently grew and opened three training centers in Yonkers, White Plains, and Mount Kisco, and 43 community residences throughout Westchester County. The Arc of Westchester is now the largest agency in Westchester County, serving over 2,000 children, teenagers, and adults with developmental disabilities.

Can you give us an overview of the types of programs and services you offer children at the Children’s School for Early Development?

CSED: Developing a world of hope and equality.

Moore & Roth: The Children’s School for Early Development serves over 200 children each year from birth to age five, and is a leader in early intervention and inclusive education for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with developmental disabilities. We support families and enable children with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential while receiving services in fully-included community early childhood settings.

There are two levels of service: Early intervention services for children from birth to age three, and preschool programs for children from three to five years old.

Early intervention services include evaluations, service coordination, speech services, and parent-child support groups. Pre-school services offer community classroom experiences so that children can learn alongside typically developing peers. The Children’s School has been recognized by the New York State Education Department’s Board of Regents as a model for collaboration with community preschools to successfully increase inclusion opportunities for children with disabilities.

In addition to the Children’s School, can you tell us about the work you do with helping teens and adults?

Moore & Roth: We offer programs and services to assist people with development disabilities of all ages, but we have some programs specifically designed to help teens and young adults transition into adult life.

The Choices Program, for example, is for people 18 years and up, and its main mission is to help people find their unique skills and talents as they are transitioning from a school setting to the workplace. Through Choices, people grow as individuals and develop valuable life skills that they will be able to bring to their future jobs. Ninety percent of people who participate in the Choices Program go on to be gainfully employed.

The Career Achievement Training & Internship program provides training and services to young adults to help them transition from high school to the working world. The program includes a series of classes and internships that give people the skills and real-world training they need to ultimately secure paying jobs. We recognize that everyone is different and our program allows people to progress through classes and internship rotations at their own speed.

As part of our Adult Employment Services program we have hundreds of people working in paid jobs throughout the community. Arc of Westchester job placement specialists work closely with the employers and the employees to make sure that the individual is contributing to the company’s workplace in a meaningful way. The program is also designed to ensure that participants are continually building their marketable job skills.

The Wellness Center provides evaluations and treatment services in occupational, physical, and speech therapy, vocational rehabilitation, nutrition, psychology, psychotherapy, and psychiatry.

Our Recreation and Respite Services provide a wide variety of leisure and learning activities to help individuals learn social skills, enjoy and experience community life, and make the transition from school to work.  We do this through theater workshops, on-campus college experience, and outdoor recreation.

Would you mind telling readers a bit about how Kimco became involved with The Children’s School for Early Development?

Moore & Roth: It was a casual conversation between two long-time friends, one working at the Children’s School for Early Development, and one working at Kimco, which led to Kimco’s wonderful involvement and donation. It was during that conversation that information was shared with Tom Taddeo about the high quality work being done by the CSED and the on-going commitment to best practices and family-focused services. What was also shared in that conversation was the frustration that exists at times by CSED staff because of the insufficient funding for these services and programs.

As a not-for-profit agency funded through government sources, the effects of limited funding are felt deeply. Kimco heard that due to inadequate funding, CSED’s professional and dedicated staff members often have to wait, sometimes for extended periods, to get access to a computer or they forego using a computer altogether because none are available. This impacts staff and the work being done on a daily basis. It was then that Mr. Taddeo asked how Kimco could help. It is not that often we hear those words. Kimco not only heard our needs, but asked for further input as to what might help CSED the most, and responded to that need quickly to assist.

The Arc: From early childhood to adulthood, creating programs and services to serve the Westchester community.

What do you plan to do with the laptops Kimco has donated?

Moore & Roth: The laptops will be used for in-service trainings, collaborative meetings with daycare centers, preschools and community partners, presentations and educational programs for families, report writing, and much more. This wonderful donation will allow CSED staff to work more efficiently, and to support staff development and community collaboration as we continue the commitment and history of reaching out to and empowering families. The computers will assist staff in their commitment to providing quality, family-focused services to children and families.

How can others get involved?

Moore & Roth:  There are many ways for organizations and individuals to become involved. For example, the proceeds from our annual “Golfing for Kids” event help to purchase a multitude of needed educational and therapeutic supports that directly benefit the children and families. Ways to help include becoming a Golfing for Kids sponsor, purchasing raffle tickets, donating silent auction items, attending the evening banquet and/or golfing with friends, relatives, and colleagues in the event. You can find more information on the website or by calling Fran Porcaro at 914-347-3227.

For more ways to become involved with the Arc of Westchester, contact Nancy Patota at 914-495-4625, or by sending her an email.

We send our deepest thanks to Kimco for supporting us and the work that we do!


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