Variety Child Learning Center (VCLC) is a major not-for-profit center in Syosset, that offers innovative programs and services for young children, especially those with learning, language, and behavior problems, including autism.
GEICO of Woodbury, recognizing the need for the programs and services that VCLC offers, recently donated $15,000 to the center. Since 1992, GEICO employees have run a candy store with all proceeds supporting VCLC's programs and services for young children with developmental disabilities, including autism.
"Over the last 15 years, GEICO has provided over $115,000 for families through this program," said Judith S. Bloch, founder and president/CEO of VCLC. "The funding enables projects such as the GEICO Needy Family Fund, Breakfast Program, Transportation Fund, Holiday Meals and Gift Program. GEICO was also our Champion for Children recipients. Thanks to their help, these projects have been extremely successful in helping our families."
Early in her career, Bloch saw firsthand the need for an early childhood program for young children with emotional and developmental disabilities. Determined to help, Bloch began VCLC in 1966 with six children and their parents in a church basement. This is now a major center that serves children with learning, language and behavior disabilities, from birth to 14 years of age, their families and professionals such as teachers and school administrators. The center provides year-round special education and support service and is known for its professional training and research. The staff of more than 250 serve thousands of young children and families.
Special education programs and services are provided at no cost to families living in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens Counties. Support services for families, research and the training of early childhood personnel are other major components of the center's work.
In all programs and services, parents and professionals are viewed as equal partners. Parents are always welcome to observe their children in the classroom or therapy rooms using one-way viewing glass and intercoms. Appointments are not required.
VCLC provides thousands of children with special and inclusionary programs and services on and off-site: Early Intervention for infants and toddlers, special education preschool and kindergarten classes; evaluations; special education teachers at nursery schools, childcare sites and at home; information and referral; Sunday respite/recreation; social skills training groups; LIL EASY cultural arts performances; applied research and training for early childhood personnel.
VCLC's success with children with developmental disabilities is statistically proven. The NYS Education Department designated VCLC's Home School Collaborative Model a "Sharing Success Validated Program" showing that when children with developmental disabilities, including autism, enter VCLC at ages 2 or 3, they improve their rates of learning after only 15 months in the program (VCLC operates the only validated preschool special education program on Long Island).
VCLC is approved by the New York State Department of Health to perform evaluations, and provide early intervention services for children birth to 3 years; chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York; and approved by the New York State Education Department as a special education facility and evaluation site for children 3 - 8 years. These services and programs are funded by federal, state and county governments; school districts; and fundraising.