The mission of the Elaine Clark Center is to enable children of all abilities to become confident & contributing citizens of the community through an innovative model of education, therapeutic play, and experiential opportunities.
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For more than four decades, the Elaine Clark Center has supported children with special needs and their families by providing an innovative model of education and therapeutic play. During the mid 1960s, Sister Robert Therese of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Atlanta began tutoring young children with developmental disabilities who were unable to attend traditional school. The Elaine Clark Center was incorporated in 1969, named in honor of one of Sister Therese's profoundly deaf students whom she taught to read and communicate, but passed away at 7 years old in a vehicle accident. The Center has since built a reputation of providing superior support for children with special needs that have traditionally been under served in the Metro Atlanta area.
When the Center first opened its doors, it served children from birth to age 18 because the school system had no classroom options for children with special needs. As education laws changed to mandate that children with special needs also receive a public education, the Center adjusted its services in order to address other opportunities to support the special needs community. In 1975, the Variety Club of Atlanta, an organization associated with the motion picture industry and committed to supporting children's charities, donated $100,000 to the Elaine Clark Center toward the purchase and renovation of our current building on Peachtree Boulevard in Chamblee. Programs for younger children with special needs grew in this special facility that has been the Elaine Clark Centers's home for the past 38 years.
In the mid 1980's, The Center's focus was entirely shifted to providing early intervention services for children from birth to age three. In the early 90's, The Center expanded the age it served to 4 year olds. In 1994, the Center became inclusive admitting children who are typically developing. In 1997, The Elaine Clark Center became licensed as a full- service day care center, expanding services to four and five year olds. Two years later, the Center was accredited by the prestigious national Association for the Education of Young Children. In 2003, the Center's leadership launched its community outreach initiative, aiming to integrate child development, social services, and educational training to meet the needs of young children at risk for developmental delay. In 2007, a therapy program was added to the expanding program to meet the speech, occupational, and physical therapeutic needs of children.
During the summer of 2009, the Center merged with Heart of Hope Academy, an accredited nonprofit organization that serves children with developmental challenges between the ages of five and twenty two. The merger established the Center as Atlanta's foremost non-profit agency providing comprehensive services for children and young adults with special needs ages 6 weeks to 22 years. In 2010 the Center embarked on a $3.5 million capital campaign to double the size of our current facility. In 2012, the capital campaign was completed and we look forward to the completion of our building project in 2014.