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Effectiveness of Early Childhood Intervention

The first five years of life are the most critical in shaping a child’s lifelong learning and skill building capacity. From a fiscal cost-benefit perspective, high-quality early childhood education is one of the smartest investments we can possibly make in Maine.

Want to know more? Read MELIG’s (Maine Early Learning Investment Group's) report on the effectiveness of early childhood intervention, here:



Winner of 2012 Giraffe Award!

Giraffe Awards: Honoring those who “stick their necks out” for kids~

The Children’s Center was nominated by parent Lisa Lawson, and chosen by the selection committee to be presented a “Giraffe Award” from the Maine Children’s Alliance. The award was presented to the Children's Center at the 18th Annual Champions for Children and Giraffe Awards on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Former Board President and longtime Children's Center supporter Kaye Flanagan joined current members of the Board of Directors Dana Hamilton, Patsy Garside Crockett, Lori Fowler, Julie Shephard, and Diane Smith-Howard to celebrate the recognition at the event, held at the Freeport Hilton Garden Inn.

Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA):

It is the mission of the Maine Children’s Alliance to advocate for a better life for children, youth and families throughout Maine. Realizing how much work there is to do and that resources are declining and the work is increasing, MCA want to honor individuals, businesses and non-profits that go above and beyond in their efforts to make life better for Maine children, by sticking out their necks to help in any way they can.

Giraffe Awards:

Since 1995, MCA has recognized those who do extraordinary work on behalf of children in communities all over Maine. The annual Giraffe Awards program has been so successful in calling attention to the achievements of dedicated volunteers, professionals and organizations that MCA has adopted the giraffe as its symbol for its ongoing efforts to “stick our necks out” to improve the well-being of children, youth and families in Maine.

Children’s advocates are often unsung heroes and the annual awards offer a chance to call attention to the amazing work that people are doing in communities across Maine to help our young people in ways that have lasting and widespread effects.

Children’s Center:

“Children’s Center: Early Intervention and Family Support” is currently celebrating its forty-fifth year of operations. In 1966, one mother (Priscilla Chevarie) was struggling to meet the needs of her daughter and joined together with other parents in the basement of a local church. That group of parents incorporated as an organization originally known as Mid-State United Cerebral Palsy. After locating in a variety of less than ideal settings, the donation of land to Kennebec County and a rural development grant led to the construction of our facility at our current location on Alden Avenue in December of 1978.

In 1990, the organization started exclusively serving children from birth to age five, and the organization also changed its name to “Children’s Center” to more accurately reflect its changing mission and programs.

In 2001, Kaye and David Flanagan provided leadership and led a dedicated group of community members in a capital campaign culminating in May of 2003, when the Children’s Center officially cut the ribbon on a newly renovated and expanded building. A shift in focus to better serve children with identified needs by including all children led to the decision to offer child care in the fall of 2008, followed by program for infants and toddlers in 2009. The Center offers a fully accessible playground, including a unique 30 foot long water feature, custom canopies for shade, a lobster boat, raised gardens, a barn, an “Enchanted Forest” and a sliding moose, all designed for four-season imaginative play and promoting an active lifestyle.

Today, the Children’s Center highly skilled staff of over 75 professionals strives to provide all of the children served with an inclusive experience, and offers a comprehensive array of services to meet the needs of children and caregivers, including specially designed instruction, childcare, speech and occupational therapy, behavioral support, specialized programs, targeted case management and parent education.

45th Anniversary Celebration


About 50 supporters gathered at the Children’s Center in Augusta last night to celebrate the 45 years the Center has been providing support to the children and families of central Maine.First incorporated as Mid State United Cerebral Palsy, Inc., the original school program was established in the basement of the Penney Memorial United Baptist Church on Water Street in Augusta.

Guest of honor at the event was Carmen Thomas, one of the students of the original school. Also a part of the program was a moving DVD presentation by Mary Nguyen, the daughter of the founder of the school, Priscilla Bryant Chavarie, and the first student of the original school.

The evening opened with guests enjoying hors d’oeuvres (provided by Maple Hill Farm) as they socialized and reminisced, reading the history of the Center that was set up as a timeline down the hall way, and participating in interactive displays set up in the classrooms and therapy rooms. Music, provided by Ed Desjardins, drifted down the hall as guests toured the Center.

In addition to the special DVD presentation by Mary Nguyen, other speakers for the evening were Kaye Flanagan, Chairman of the Capital Campaign in the early 2000’s, who spoke to the shift in societal perspective over the years around children with special needs, the financial state of the Center at the beginning of her involvement on the Board, and the incredible amount of community support that not only saved the Center, but allowed it to expand its building and programs to better serve the children and families who needed it.

Roger Katz spoke of his involvement with the Center, and how he often holds the Children’s Center up as an example of how an organization can provide services in a fiscally responsible manner, and the incredible impact those services provide in the community.

Guests were then deeply moved by the heartfelt words of grandparent, Cindy Lavallee. Mrs. Lavallee shared the story of her grandson whom she said had been helped tremendously by attending the Children’s Center . The boy’s life was forever changed by the skills and independence that he acquired while there. Now thirteen, the young man is an accomplished Special Olympian, attending school with his peers and experiencing success. In the words of his grandmother, “He never would have been able to do any of these things he’s done, without the Children’s Center.”

Thanks to all in attendance for your continued support.

The crowning treat of the evening was a beautiful 45th Anniversary cake provided by Cakes by Jennifer, and coffee, and a bit more socializing to wrap up the event.

For the past 45 years, the Children’s Center: Early Intervention and Family Support, a private, non-profit organization, has been a valued resource for families in Central Maine, providing nurturing environments for young children with diverse abilities. The Center also offers childcare at its Augusta location, and Targeted Case Management and Rehabilitative Community Support Services in both its Augusta and Skowhegan locations.

Cony Class Supports Children's Center



Fifteen students from Mr. Jared Braun's Junior class at Cony High School dedicated the morning of May 21, 2012 to some heavy-duty yard work at the Children's Center for the United Way Student Day of Caring. Thanks for your support!


New Nature Walk ~ Outdoor Classroom: Courtesy of Colby 1st Year Students

 Augusta, Maine - Sixteen incoming Colby students and four student leaders visited the Children’s Center in Augusta on Thursday, September 1st, 2011, as a part of Colby’s C2IT community service program.  After getting to know a little bit about the programs and supports offered by the Children’s Center at its locations in Augusta and Skowhegan, the students divided into teams to do some heavy-duty yard work. By the time the students were done, three hours later, they had constructed a new nature walk/ outdoor classroom and seriously spruced up the Center’s playground.     

 For the past 45 years, the Children’s Center has been a valued resource for families in Central Maine, creating nurturing environments for young children with diverse abilities, some of whom receive specially-designed instruction and therapy services right at the Center, while being in classroom settings with their peers.  The Center also offers childcare at its Augusta location, and Targeted Case Management at both locations.

 The Children’s Center’s playground represents a deep commitment to inclusion, wellness, and healthy outdoor play for young children of all abilities. Built with a focus on the Maine Outdoors, features of the playground include a stone waterfall, swings, a separate toddler area, and a lobster boat. Also popular are the moose slide, a lighthouse play structure, a mountaintop climbing structure, a bike path, and a play barn.  The older children enjoy playing in the “Enchanted Forest” area featuring a cedar play structure nestled in a stand of white birch, elm, and sugar maple. The new nature walk/ outdoor classroom adds even more elements of health, wellness and discovery to the children’s learning experiences.

 Colby College students have consistently been strong supporters and advocates for the Children’s Center, and have been a part of other construction projects on the playground, as well.

 Student Leaders were Zak Jaques, Jean Jaques Nduyisenga, Nicholas Kodiles, and Jennifer Gemmell.

Incoming students were Griffin Metto, Alex Mintz, Alicia Fawcett, Monica Li, Julie Toich, Gus Jingyan, Peter Cronkite, Justin Lutian, Monica Valentin, Kyle Regacion, Drew Kelly, Julie MacLean, Shannon Kenny, Jessica Rosenberg, Ryan Grunsach, and Nick Kondiles.


Graduation 2011 - Movin’ on Up… to Kindergarten and Beyond

 AUGUSTA, Maine – Twenty children graduated from the Children’s Center on Monday, August 22nd to the cheers, applause, and beaming smiles of their families, friends, and teachers.  Children of all abilities receive preschool, child care, and specialized therapy at the Children’s Center to prepare them for success throughout their school-age years, and throughout their lifetimes.   

 For the past 45 years, the Children’s Center has been creating nurturing environments for young children, some of whom have special needs.  This year’s graduating class included children who are typically-developing and received child care, and children with diverse abilities and challenges who received specially designed instruction and therapy services.  Children of all abilities learned kindergarten readiness skills in an inclusive setting, and developed friendships along the way.  The children worked diligently, with the guidance of a team of teachers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists, to achieve developmental milestones.  For each of them, an individualized plan for success in kindergarten will be implemented in September.

 With families gathered to celebrate this milestone in their children’s lives, a slide show played, chronicling moments in time of the graduating children’s experiences while at the Center. Families and Children’s Center staff alike were clearly moved.

 Of the 2011 Graduating Class, three children will be attending the Wayne Regional Autism Program and seventeen will be attending their local public kindergarten or pre-k schools, with six of those seventeen entering into living skills or behavior programs.

 The Children’s Center is honored to have provided a foundation for success for these twenty children.  The children and their families were clearly delighted with their achievements, glowing in pride as the children received their diplomas.


Children's Center Receives 2011 Dirigo Award for Nonprofit Excellence


The Children’s Center is the 2011 Dirigo Award Winner for Nonprofit Excellence in the Medium Organization Division.

Launched in 2007, the Dirigo Awards for Nonprofit Excellence in Maine are presented annually by the Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP) to the three Maine nonprofit organizations that have achieved significant results by utilizing ingenuity combined with sound management practices.

This year the Dirigo Awards for Nonprofit Excellence were focused on three key components of MANP’s mission, “Leadership, Voice, and Organizational Effectiveness.” MANP  believes all three facets not only contribute to a healthy and vibrant organization, but are also critical for nonprofits to achieve high mission impact.

In his presentation speech, Scott Schnapp, Executive Director of Maine Association of Nonprofits, noted why the Children’s Center was chosen to receive this recognition:

“For 45 years, the Children’s Center has been providing services to families of children with special needs, adapting as the community’s needs have shifted, but always in alignment with its mission: to meet the needs of children of all abilities by offering quality programs that encourage individual growth, provide support for their families and promote the inclusion of ALL children in the community.”

Schnapp pointed to the three key components embodied by the Center:

Leadership: “Three years ago, the Children’s Center adopted inclusion as its service model, establishing this expectation for the children attending the Center, their families, and the employees. They embrace this concept in their management, and they model this value in the community, in turn becoming a model for other providers.”

Voice: “The leadership team of the agency advocates for children in their work with several statewide advisory organizations, working with a deliberate focus on advocacy for all children with special needs.”

Organizational Effectiveness: “With its model of inclusion, the Children’s Center works to create an environment where everyone is supported to achieve their greatest impact on mission. This model is not just an ideal; it is the basic principle they use in their approach to everything they do.”

The Center is honored by this recognition.

Debbie Dunn Honored for 25 Years of Commitment to Children

AUGUSTA, Maine – A celebration in honor of Debbie Dunn and her 25 years of contributions to the field of early intervention in our local community took place on Friday, June 18th at the Elks Lodge in Augusta. Dunn has served as the Site Director of Southern Kennebec Child Development Services since its inception in 1984, when it was known as “The Blue Room.” The party was attended by colleagues, legislators, local providers of children’s services, and families of the many young children whose lives were improved by the wisdom and commitment Dunn demonstrated daily in her work.

“Throughout her tenure, Debbie has been a staunch advocate for children and families,” says Children’s Center Executive Director Jonathan Leach. “She created a community-based network of providers to help children and families succeed, and she has been an activist at the State House for good public policy about children’s issues.”

Professional colleague Deb Crump speaks highly of her long-time supervisor, saying “Debbie has been an inspiration for those who worked for her. She motivates others to work hard on behalf of kids.” A large group of professional partners, family members, and friends came together at the Elks Club to enjoy a video tribute, music and dinner in honor of Debbie Dunn’s accomplishments.



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