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“I was so desperate to find a place where I felt comfortable sending Hayden,” Melissa explained how she felt in her search for childcare for her daughter Hayden, who at the time had difficulties swallowing and wasn’t very mobile. She remembers breaking down in tears after touring the Elaine Clark Center because she’d finally found a place she was confident could meet Hayden’s needs and keep her safe, two things the childcare search proved easier said than done.

Hayden’s first daycare was a home daycare setting that couldn’t accommodate her therapy schedule, so her parents Melissa and Brian moved to keep her home with family, only to realize she still needed peer interaction for her growth and development. Touring other facilities, the family found even typical centers with therapy space had small rooms with limited equipment, so when they found ECC Melissa was excited for the opportunity the center offered.

Hayden attended ECC for about three years, from the time she was 18 months old until she was four and a half and moved on to pre-K in the public school system. In that time, Hayden achieved milestones big and small, and each one as important as the last.

Melissa recalls when Hayden started walking, and knowing Hayden would be able to experience the world in a completely different way. Even learning short phrases have a big impact on Hayden’s life. Since she learned ‘look at this!’ Hayden has been showing her mom her artwork, and now that Hayden has the vocabulary to share it, Melissa realizes just how excited Hayden is about what she creates.


Through the years Hayden has grown up to be an “affectionate, funny, silly little girl,” as Melissa describes her, and Melissa looks forward to everything that is still to come, and to see Hayden’s body to do what Hayden wants it to do. Though Hayden has moved onto her next chapter, Melissa is grateful for the normalcy and community at ECC that prepared Hayden for her next steps.


“I was thankful for this community and environment where people were working together for each individual child’s goals and benefit.”

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