|winston prouty center|
The Winston Prouty Center for Child Development provides inclusive education and family support to promote the success of children and families. For forty years, the Center has served the communities of Southern Vermont.
Mission and Major Initiatives
The initial program, First Chance, began in 1969. It was funded by a federal grant to experiment with the process of educating young children with special needs and to develop models that could be replicated in other settings. The bill signed into law began as the Handicapped Children’s Early Education Assistance Act, co-sponsored by Vermont Senator Winston L. Prouty. This was a landmark bill in that it was the first legislation in history approved by Congress exclusively for the education of all children with special needs without being attached to any other legislation.
First Chance grew rapidly, and The Winston Prouty Center for Child Development was incorporated on July 26, 1972. The mission of the Center has evolved to one of inclusion, serving a diverse range of children with different economic, physical, developmental and cultural needs through two of our programs: the Early Learning Center (ELC) and the Family Infant Toddler (FIT) Program. The ELC serves children from age 15 months to kindergarten, while FIT is primarily a home-based program, serving the families of children from birth to three years who have a specific developmental delay. The two programs often interact, from staff support to children playing together. Currently, we serve 37 families through the ELC and 72 through FIT, and these numbers keep growing each year.
In 2008, the Center hired a Family Support Worker with Children’s Integrated Services (CIS). CIS is a program through the State of Vermont that is streamlining services to children and families. Currently three programs are the focus of this integration: FIT at Prouty, Healthy Babies Kids and Families at the Department of Health, and Infant–Child Guidance (ICG) at Early Education Services. This program serves approximately 15 families at any given time, although this number can fluctuate dramatically.
For the future, we foresee the Winston Prouty Center continuing to fulfill its mission by expanding the CIS program on a state-wide level, and continuing to support the success of all children and their families through our ELC and FIT programs.
Organizational Capacity and Stability
The Winston Prouty Center has been an active and vital part of the greater Brattleboro community for forty years. As a non-profit, the recent economic downturn has had an impact on us, as it has on so many other organizations. However, it is important to us that our services remain accessible to families of all income levels, so to that end we organize two major fundraisers throughout the year: A Taste of the Town, a Benefit and Auction, in the spring and an Annual Appeal in the fall.
Our Board of Trustees is comprised of ten members. They represent various professional backgrounds, from business and education to medicine. Historically, we have been fortunate to have many distinguished community members serve as Trustees, and many of them are still active supporters of the Center. The Board of Trustees meets monthly and is chiefly involved in strategic planning and fundraising initiatives.
Our Staff is comprised of veteran educators, Early Interventionists, a Social Worker, and an experienced administrative staff. We have several staff members who have been with the Center for many years, some as long as fifteen. We hold Staff Meetings twice a month and work to maintain a cohesive unit to best serve our families.
Programs of the Winston Prouty Center
The programs of the Winston Prouty Center serve children from birth until they are enrolled in kindergarten. Our focus is on inclusion, serving children of all developmental needs and their families.
The Early Learning Center (ELC) is our preschool program, serving children from 15 months to 5 years. The ELC consists of four classrooms separated according to age and each class of children stays together from year to year. There are also many opportunities for children to join in activities with other age groups, which benefits both the younger and older children. Since we are a program that focuses on inclusion, the children play with a diverse mix of friends, with typical and atypical physical and emotional development. The ELC is a specialized care provider, which means that we are qualified by the State of Vermont to provide placement to children in protective service or in the State’s care. The ELC is a place where every child belongs – in the classroom, on the playground, wherever children go.
The Family Infant Toddler Program (FIT) meets families where they are, offering specialized services designed to help them support their children with developmental delays at home and in their larger communities by addressing their specific needs.
Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) is a program-in-progress. We anticipate that the streamlining of the previously mentioned programs (FIT, Healthy Babies, and ICG) will make these services more readily available and accessible to children and families in need. A successful CIS program will further cement the reputation of the Winston Prouty Center as a leader in early childhood education and intervention at a regional and state-wide level.
The Winston Prouty Center is funded through federal and state grants, donations from individuals and businesses, and we rely on investment interest from our endowment for cash flow. In addition, the ELC is funded through tuition payments and subsidy programs from both Vermont and New Hampshire. The families in our FIT and CIS programs are often subsidized by Medicaid for direct services, and our screenings are free of charge.
With our three major programs, we at the Winston Prouty Center strive to create an inclusive community, where children with diverse developmental abilities are welcomed and respected for their differences whether at home, in early education, or in the community.
The Winston Prouty Center has served children and families throughout Windham County, Vermont for forty years. We directly serve approximately 125 families through our ELC, FIT, and CIS programs, and we indirectly serve countless more through public workshops and trainings, events, and advocacy. Demand for our services continues to dramatically increase, and we plan to be advocates for all children and families for the next forty years and beyond.
The Winston Prouty Center is an important member of the Brattleboro community, and of the larger communities of Windham County and Southern Vermont. The ELC is accredited by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and has earned five (out of five) stars through Vermont’s STARS program, which is a quality rating system for childcare, preschool and after school programs. The FIT program is innovative and fulfills an important role in early intervention therapies for young children with developmental delays. CIS is a state-supported program that provides necessary education and assistance to children and families with developmental, emotional, financial, or other concerns.
For twenty years, the Brattleboro community has strongly supported our spring fundraiser, A Taste of the Town. This event is always well-attended, and we receive many donations from local florists, craftspeople, and business and restaurant owners.
Comments Submitted from Parents, Caregivers, and Staff
“I am proud to work in a place where children accept each other wholeheartedly, where differences are celebrated, where children’s eyes are large and their hearts even larger. And where teachers and families value the inclusive philosophy that allows all this to be possible.”
“I feel strongly that inclusion is our greatest strength. Meeting the goals for children with special needs means putting together programs that benefit and enrich all.”
“I believe the diversity of staff and inclusion of students throughout the Center is its most powerful tool in putting preschool children in real-world situations that will impact them throughout their lives.”
“My son has multiple special needs, yet due to the inclusive model, the other children simply accept him as one of the group. The way he has been embraced by the Prouty family touches my heart daily.”
“Our reason for sending our children to Winston Prouty is simple....the people! Over the years, the wonderful, caring staff has become an important part of our family.”
“I love the fact that my daughter sees all the kids she interacts with as “friend,” no matter what—if they use a wheelchair, if they’re non-verbal, if their ethnic background or family structure is different than hers. The Prouty Center is a unique place—and a snapshot of what I hope her world will look like as she grows older.”
"The Winston Prouty Center has impacted my son and family in more ways than I will ever be able to express. The Family Infant Toddler Program Early Interventionists began seeing my son, who has multiple disabilities, when he was just 16 days old, and now the Early Learning Center is preparing him to head off to Kindergarten in a mainstream classroom, even though he is non-ambulatory and non-verbal. The Center uses an innovative approach by nurturing not only the child, but the entire family as a cohesive unit. This allows each family member to be stronger, more capable, and better able to deal with the child’s disabilities. It also turns what at first seems impossible, raising a highly disabled child, into something that we CAN do while at the same time helping us find the immeasurable joy that all parents should have. Now heading off to Kindergarten in our local public school, the Early Learning Center’s teaching style focuses on each student as an individual and as a group member regardless of being a typically or atypically developing student. Their approach in creating an environment without boundaries due to physical or learning disabilities has allowed my son to experience life to its fullest and to just be a kid! I also believe that it has taught his peers a great deal about different really not being so different after all."
The Winston Prouty Center for Child Development is unique in the early childhood education community in that we are dedicated to inclusion, and offer extensive care and support for families of children with specific developmental delays. Our staff members serve as resources for educators, families, and the greater community. The Center also hosts public workshops and trainings, and our facility is available for use by other non-profits and child-focused organizations in the community.