The Childhood League Center
The Childhood League Center’s programs teach teaches parents of special needs children valuable tools for the healthy development of their sons and daughters.
The Childhood League Center is a Beacon of Hope for Parents of Children with Special Needs
Columbus’ Childhood League Center got its start back in 1945 as a nursery providing needed care for infants and young children during World War II. Thanks to the extraordinary commitment of its many volunteers over the past six decades, the League has continued to serve local families with a vision “to honor the bright future and hopes all families have for their children with special needs.”
Sitting across the street from Children’s Hospital, The Childhood League Center is a licensed, accredited early education and intervention program committed to providing essential services to kids from birth to age six. Its program currently reaches over 400 children. Ginger Young, Executive Director, emphasizes that the League “believes in the capabilities of each young learner who comes to the Center full of unlimited potential.” It is the League’s goal, she explains, to help unlock this potential through creative, supportive educational and developmental programs. “We strive to provide an environment that fosters the growth of the whole child,” says Young.
Two important program elements at the Center include parental education/engagement and social interaction with peers. With regard to the former, Young explains that the developmental skills that the child learns in a classroom setting or community program must also be fostered within the home. So the Center trains parents through programs like The P.L.A.Y. Project and Help Me Grow. The P.L.A.Y. Project was designed by Dr. Richard Solomon, medical director at the Ann Arbor Center for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and is aimed at helping parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The program teaches parents how to be skilled “players” in their child’s development and to integrate helpful practices within the home. The Center only began using P.L.A.Y. in 2012, but as it has monitored its effects among the eight families currently participating, staff are seeing significant successes in terms of the children’s social engagement. The Help Me Grow initiative is a home-bases service model that coaches families of children up to age three. Through it, experienced professionals with expertise in child development and social work educate parents, conduct developmental screenings of the children, and help connect the family to relevant community support services. Together with the parents they set goals for the children based on family priorities.
Staff at The Childhood League are also enthusiastic about bringing together special needs children with normally developing children for social integration and peer-to-peer development. The Center’s team of teachers and active volunteers work diligently in the classroom to teach children with and without special needs how to learn with and from each other. They attempt to maintain a three-to-one child to adult ratio at all times. Teachers recognize the value of social integration and believe strongly that “children with special needs have a right to be part of a community.” “Learning Partners” is one of the social integration programs and through it, kids work in pairs or small groups on given projects. Teacher reports of children’s increased empathy and acceptance of differences are one way that they monitor the successful implementation of this initiative. Kindergarten teachers have reported that students they have received from The League’s programs are “100% Kindergarten ready” in their interactions with other children.