Each school has its own special focus, yet all are rooted in ABC’s
commitment to the principle that every child is entitled to the best
possible start – one that is full of happiness, accomplishment and love.
ABC’s schools celebrate children in all their exquisite diversity by
appreciating their unique contributions, encouraging their optimum
development, honoring their shared humanity and treasuring their
ABC’s unique approach extends well beyond the individual child to
embrace the whole family by providing the supportive services that each
family member needs. Parents are integral to their children’s success,
treasured partners in all of ABC’s programs.
Merricat's Castle School
In Merricat’s Castle School’s three beautiful and lively
classrooms, preschoolers learn academic skills as well as the lessons of
patience, kindness and caring. Typically developing children and
children with special needs are cherished and grow together in a
nurturing setting where the process of learning is an adventure in
acquiring social, intellectual, emotional, creative and physical skills.
A special education staff coordinates medical, psychological and
language services, and families enjoy parent workshops, counseling and a
close involvement in the life of the Merricat’s community.
A beautiful new playground encourages children to enjoy safe, outdoor
play throughout the school year. ABC’s Merricat’s Castle first broke new
ground for disabled children by successfully advocating in the courts
for a mainstreaming policy that would fund the inclusion of children
with special needs in preschool programs. And by also championing its
inclusive paradigm, Merricat’s has become
the national model for
preschool inclusion. The combined success of its advocacy and its design
has paved the way for widespread change. 115 children
are enrolled in the 2008 academic year.
At Cassidy’s Place, named for Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford’s
daughter, 120 preschoolers who live in poverty and suffer from severe
disabilities, serious medical problems and have significant special
needs develop, play and learn in nine dynamic and inviting classrooms.
Children, who might otherwise be unable to attend school, enjoy an
enriched curriculum and the special therapies that help them achieve
their highest potential.
Blending Head Start, preschool special education and
Universal Pre-Kindergarten, Cassidy’s Place provides a full
day that is further augmented with comprehensive and
seamlessly integrated support services for each child and
each family member.
A glorious backyard playground affords the children daily
opportunities for outdoor play. Through ABC’s Parent
Council, parents are directly involved in their children’s
Parents also participate in parent-child activities,
discussion groups and skills workshops and take a leadership
role at this very special preschool.
with Kathy Lee Gifford (PDF)
Variety Cody Gifford House
Named for Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford’s son, Variety
Cody Gifford House focuses its early intervention on infants and
toddlers who live in poverty and struggle with severe developmental
disabilities and delays and serious medical conditions.
34 Children from birth to three receive special
educational and developmental therapies as they play and flourish in
beautifully and vibrantly appointed classrooms and therapy rooms.
Variety Cody Gifford House serves infants and toddlers with
developmental, educational, physical, medical and behavioral
disabilities including but not limited to: pervasive developmental
disorders, autism, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, seizure disorder,
hydrocephalus, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, kidney disease, cerebral
and peripheral nervous system disorders, central nervous system
disorders, central nervous system damage, brain lesions, hearing and
vision impairment, cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS and spina
bifida. Half of all the children in the program have been diagnosed on
the autism spectrum.
The lessons and impact of the classrooms are also
brought directly into the home through home-based early intervention
services which are offered to 65 families in the community.
Behind this charming brownstone is a serene haven for
families and a beautiful new playspace for children, The Heckscher/Friends
Here also, a memorial garden honors ABC’s children.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (Video)
Interview with Kathy
Lee Gifford (PDF)
The Keith Haring School
The Keith Haring School is located at ABC’s
Supportive Housing Program for homeless
families with HIV and AIDS. Adorned with Keith Haring’s
colorful and joyous silhouettes, it is a stimulating Head
Start program for the residents’ young children as well as
for children from the community.
Keith Haring’s classroom is organized into inviting
activity centers that promote learning and readiness skills
and, through dramatic play using puppets, literature and
multi-sensory activities, the curriculum also addresses the
emotional impact of loss. A close collaboration among
parents, teachers and social workers enhances the
effectiveness of the program. 10 children are enrolled.
Echo Park Early Childhood Center:
Cutie Patootie and The Graham School
The Cutie Patootie Early Childhood Center and The
Stephen & Cathy Graham School are located at Echo Park,
ABC’s multi-service center for children and families. Here,
four classrooms have been expanded to eight, increasing
substantially the number of children to 129. Both early
childhood education programs gain greatly from the
comprehensive array of services that are available on-site
and can “wrap around” to strengthen each child’s family.
They include a children’s mental health clinic, an after
school and weekend educational, recreational and mentoring
program, preventive services, therapeutic groups for
children in crisis, parent support groups and employment
The Cutie Patootie Early Childhood Center
serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers who play, learn
and delight in beautiful classrooms that reflect the vigor
and promise of its young students. Healthy, delicious meals
and snacks are prepared daily. A comfortable and well
stocked young children’s library and reading room and a
technology center further augment the curriculum, and
Bunny’s Playground will ensure the children a safe and
exhilarating space to play. Home-based Head Start brings the
philosophy and practices of the classroom to families in the
The Stephen & Cathy Graham School is an
enriched, inclusionary early childhood education program
dedicated to serving homeless and especially vulnerable
infants and young children in East Harlem. It offers a safe,
stable and caring environment and the carefully
individualized education programs that are designed to meet
each child’s special needs. A large Universal
Pre-Kindergarten program is provided for four year old children.