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Recognizing that long-term benefits are gained from intervening early in the lives of children living in poverty, the centerpiece of ABC is high-quality early childhood education.

Young children in ABC’s preschools and early intervention programs thrive in classrooms that are alive with joyful songs, purposeful activities, brilliant colors and tender moments. There are corners to explore, mysteries to solve, books to discover, paint to splatter, drums to bang, steps to conquer and towers to build … and rebuild.

ABC Helps Make Big Dreams and High Hopes Come True

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 infinite potential.

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.

ABC's Educational  Programs Break the Cycle of Poverty & Neglect

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 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.

Visit the Merricat's Castle School Website

Cassidy's Place
At Cassidy’s Place, named for Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford’s daughter, preschoolers who live in poverty and suffer from severe disabilities, serious medical conditions 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 education.

Parents also participate in parent-child activities, discussion groups and skills workshops and take a leadership role at this very special preschool.

Cody Gifford House

Variety Cody Gifford House - Early Childhood Developement at ABC

Named for Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford’s son, Cody Gifford House focuses early intervention services on infants and toddlers who live in poverty and struggle with severe developmental disabilities and delays and serious medical conditions.

Children from birth to three learn, play, and flourish together, in beautiful and vibrant classrooms and therapy rooms with their nurturing, attentive instructors. All children receive high quality, enriching, care; individually designed and developmentally appropriate instruction, including physical therapies, occupational therapies, speech therapies, specialized play therapy; and related services, including parent-child groups, parent training, family support, counseling. The lessons and impact of the classrooms are also brought directly into the home through home-based early intervention services, which are offered to families in the community.

Behind this charming brownstone is a serene haven for families and a beautiful new playspace for children, The Heckscher/Friends Seminary Playground.

Here also, a memorial garden honors ABC’s children.

Find more information about ABC’s early intervention services here.

Interview with Kathie Lee Gifford (PDF)

ABC's Keith Haring School The Keith Haring School
The Keith Haring School is located at ABC’s Supportive Housing Program for formerly homeless families with HIV and AIDS. Adorned with Keith Haring’s colorful and joyous silhouettes, this therapeutic nursery school offers early intervention services for the residents’ young children as well as for children from the community.

Head Start at Keith Haring SchoolThe Keith Haring School’s warm, positive staff members provide high-quality, individually designed special instruction, occupational therapies, physical therapies, speech therapies, and mental health counseling to infants and toddlers with special needs, prioritizing the formerly homeless families with HIV/AIDS living in ABC’s supportive housing program, children with HIV/AIDS, and children from families affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition to receiving personalized care, children with different developmental and cognitive delays and disabilities learn and play together, as well as with their nurturing, attentive instructors, in a group-based modality that facilitates learning. By cultivating parent engagement and offering critical support, caregivers and families feel empowered to become their children’s best advocates; learn to encourage their own children’s growth and development; and acquire the techniques and methods that help facilitate a therapeutic home environment as well. At the Keith Haring School, all children are encouraged to play, laugh, explore, and discover.

Find more information about ABC’s early intervention services here.

The Graham School at Echo Park
The Graham School, which nurtures and educates infants, toddlers and preschoolers through Head Start, Special Education, and Early Head Start programs, is located at Echo Park, ABC’s multi-service center for children and families. Children at the Graham School 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 assistance.

Cutie Patootie Early Childhood Center at Echo ParkAt the Graham School, children play, learn and delight in ten 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, while the Echo Park Rooftop Playground ensures the children a safe and exhilarating space to play. Home-based Early Head Start brings the philosophy and high-quality care of onsite services to families in the community.

Home Based Head Start Prgram at the Stephen & Cathy Graham School

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Updated October 7, 2014