theParklander

Broward's Children Center Steps Up
By Jamie Lober / March 2012

Our community celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Broward Children's Center in Pompano Beach. "The reason we initially came about was because, forty years ago, there was no place for parents who had a child with special needs to go," said Giselle Reid, executive director.

Today, staff and families alike are amazed at the center's progress. "It started out as a one-room daycare center and from there the needs kept on growing along with the CEO's vision," said Reid.

Now there are twelve different programs, serving more than 1,200 children and families annually. The heart of the organization is the pediatric skilled nursing facility. "It is the only one of its kind in the southeast U.S. serving children from birth to age twenty-one who are medically fragile," said Reid.

A team of specialists including physical, occupational and speech therapists, along with a wonderful nursing team and medical director, makes things happen. "Our goal is to provide the greatest quality of life that is possible when kids come to us from the hospital," said Reid. "Sometimes they stay with us temporarily until they are medically stable and able to go home to their families, but that is not always the case."
At Broward's Children Center, there are two group homes, one for young adults and another for all ages of developmentally delayed youth. There is also a home health agency, two developmental pre-schools, an in-home and out-of-home respite program, plus the input of a clinical psychologist and social workers.

"For our community-based programs like pre-school, we provide transportation and make sure kids get therapies and all the tools they need to make great progress, so the parent does not have to worry," said Reid.

The pre-school is unique because it is inclusionary, so there are medically fragile and special needs children mixed with typical kids. Mixing these different populations helps with development. "We group kids according to developmental abilities rather than age, so when kids are out on the playground or having lunch, they get to interact with one another, which is a great benefit," said Reid. "It helps them not to have bigotry and realize they are the same and how they should treat others."

The respite program is fantastic because it provides a break for parents. "It is like a babysitter but they (staff members) are highly trained in dealing with a child with special needs," said Reid. "We know how difficult it is for a parent and how overwhelmed parents feel, but there are a lot of resources out there and we are here to help them."

One program sends the respite sitter into the home and the other allows you to drop your child off at a respite home for any amount of time. "It lets you go on a date with your spouse, get grocery shopping done or spend time with another child, which is the break you often do not get," said Reid.

It also prevents parents from placing their child in a facility and decreases abuse by preserving the family unit while the child receives quality care. Almost all services are free or on a sliding fee scale. "We want it to be accessible to all the families who need them," said Reid.

There are a few events throughout the year to raise funds and awareness. "We have a wonderful volunteer program, which can be working directly with children, helping with homework and activities or clerical assignments," said Reid. "We try to get kids who need assistance as early as possible because the earlier we get them, the better the chances for their prognosis and to be able to make greater strides."

If you feel a friend or neighbor can benefit from Broward Children's Center, share this article. "Most people have no idea we are this big," said Reid. "We say we are like a little hidden gem."

Broward Children's Center is located at 200 S.E. 19th Ave. in Pompano Beach. The telephone number is 954-943-7638. The email is info@bcckids.org.




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