Programs for Children
Livingston Center Preschool
Our mission is to provide young children with opportunities to develop to their maximum potential in the areas of social skills, emotional development, cognition, and physical health. Children’s individual differences and personal learning styles are embraced while teachers and families collaborate to offer meaningful experiences. We are dedicated to the enhancement of children's confidence and self-esteem, which are promoted through individualized attention as well as small and large group activities. The warm and caring faculty maintains a safe environment that challenges each child according to his or her specific abilities. These goals are met by combining research-based methods with highly trained professionals who are dedicated to the success of every child.
The Livingston Center for Early Childhood Education, familiarly called the Preschool, is the Groden Center’s inclusion program for young children with autism and their typically developing peers. It opened in 1998 in its present location on Livingston Street in Providence, RI. The program is licensed by the Department of Education as an approved nursery school and by the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families as a day care center. It also is approved for families who qualify for subsidized childcare through the Rhode Island Department of Human Services. The Preschool serves children with diagnoses of autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), or other challenging behavioral problems between the ages of three and six. Children who are developing typically range in age from three to five. A maximum of 20 children can be accommodated in the Preschool. At full enrollment, the ratio of children with special needs to their typical peers is 7 to 13.
The Preschool program model is one of full inclusion. That is, all children participate in the same general routines and activities throughout the day. Children with autism and other developmental disabilities have individual education plans (IEPs) that have been devised to meet their special needs. IEP objectives are woven into the daily events and are practiced during both structured and incidental teaching opportunities.
The Livingston Center Preschool has several spacious classrooms, a kitchen area that is used for snack, lunch, and art activities, a sensory room, library corner and computer area. The environment of the Preschool was designed to provide space for intensive individual work as well as locations that foster peer interactions in small and large groups. One of the classrooms is divided into six individual work areas. This is where children work one-to-one with a teacher on specific IEP goals. The largest classroom area is sub-divided into a variety of play and activity centers including: listening center for music and stories on tape, art center, block center, writing center, play kitchen area, dramatic play center, math center, and science center.
Staffing for the Livingston Center Preschool consists of a certified special education teacher, a certified early childhood education teacher, and five teaching/treatment assistants who make up the core of the treatment team. Individual programs for students in the classroom are augmented by the expertise of specialized resource personnel including: a master’s level supervisor with a degree in special education; a doctoral level director with a degree in psychology; a speech and language pathologist; an adaptive physical education teacher; a nurse; and an occupational therapist with expertise in sensory integration. In addition to the Preschool treatment team and resource personnel, the Groden Center works with a number of consultants including a behavioral psychologist, a pediatric physical therapist, a pediatrician, and a child psychiatrist. The consultants are available to help treatment teams develop the most appropriate program for children in the Preschool.
Information & Referrals For Children with Special Needs
Children with special needs are referred to the Groden Center’s Preschool by their local school departments. The school departments make referrals when a child’s needs cannot be met within the district. Once a referral is made, the Groden Center Admissions Coordinator sets up a screening to determine if the needs of the child and family can be served in the Preschool.
There are no diagnostic requirements for a child to be considered for enrollment in the Groden Center, although most children have autism or pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) as at least one of their diagnoses. The Preschool has worked successfully with children with a variety of diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, PDD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, severe developmental delay, and oppositional defiant disorder
For children being referred by their school districts, the Groden Center's admissions department should be contacted at (401) 274-6310. On an agreed upon day, the child will visit the preschool and spend 1-2 hours participating in activities with the other children. The information from the family interview and child visit will be reviewed by the preschool team to determine the program's ability to meet the needs of the child and family.
For Typically Developing Preschoolers
Parents of typically developing children who are interested in placing their children in the Preschool may call the office directly at (401) 421-2062 to arrange a tour and a meeting with the Preschool supervisor. Families interested in enrolling a child in the Preschool complete the application and schedule a screening for their child. The purpose of the screening is twofold: to give the child an opportunity to explore the classroom and participate in Preschool activities, and for the Preschool staff and family to observe how the child responds to the Preschool structure and routine. Our goal is to insure that each child and family can be well served in our setting.