Victoria cries uncontrollably as she hears her 3-year-old son Kane call out to her. Kane is a child who seldom uses words but finds other means to communicate, so his early learning experience in childcare settings has been a challenging journey. When Kane was two years old and at his first childcare center, Victoria was told within the week that her son might be autistic. Because Kane’s responses were non-verbal in nature and he often withdrew from classroom participation, the staff assumed he had a learning disability. “I was totally in disbelief when I heard the news, said Victoria. “I immediately made appointments with pediatricians to get him tested.”
After several tests in which the doctors confirmed Kane was fine, he continued to struggle at childcare; eventually the disappointing cycle of conflicting statements from different providers and physicians left Victoria at her wits end. Happily this changed when she enrolled him at the Children’s Learning Center at Goodwill of Southern Indiana, a Metro United Way Excellence Academy (EA) early learning program – supported in partnership with Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C) and the Lift of Life Foundation.
After only seven weeks at this EA center, Kane has started saying three-word sentences such as “I want drink” and “give me food” and also knows the alphabet, pronounces his colors and is learning his numbers. With the support of the teachers, the classroom environment has motivated Kane to be more interactive with space, objects and his classmates.
“The teachers at Goodwill are so patient and diligent with my son,” Victoria said. “They let him go at his own pace and the curriculum fits around him,” she explained. “I wasn’t going to give up and allow Kane to become a statistic as a child not ready to enter kindergarten. I’m thankful for the Excellence Academy program and the quality care my son is receiving,” she added.
Research confirms that children with high-quality early care experiences, like those in our Excellence Academy centers, score higher on measures of physical, cognitive and socio-emotional competencies compared to their peers. Metro United Way knows that this early start with kindergarten readiness is critical to a child’s academic and lifelong success!