Our Mission

The Kennedy Children’s Center: Where Children, Families, and Communities Learn Together

Kennedy Children’s Center (KCC) is dedicated to providing high quality education services to young children with developmental delays, in partnership with families and communities. We accomplish this through child-centered, evidence-based instruction that prepares each student to enter the New York City public school system in the least restrictive environment possible. We seek to support families with training, guidance, and advocacy, and strengthen our school community through professional development and collaborations with local human service organizations.

As a publicly funded nonprofit organization, KCC serves public school children who are placed in our program by their local New York City Department of Education school districts. KCC is:

•         Approved by New York State Education Department (NYSED) as a Special Education Preschool.
•         Approved by New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) as a Day Care provider.
•         Incorporated in New York State and registered as a 501c3 charitable organization with the IRS.
•         Accredited by the Better Business Bureau through the BBB Accredited Charity Seal program
•         An affiliated agency of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

Learn more about us in our 2018 Annual Report!

Our History

In the Classroom c. 1968

In the Classroom c. 1968

Established in 1958 as the ‘Kennedy Child Study Center,’ KCC was one of the first schools in the nation to recognize that children with special needs deserve the same opportunities as typically developing children – to learn, grow, and develop their unique abilities. 

In six decades of service, we have transformed from a small private school established by the Kennedy family and run by the Daughters of Charity, to a DOE-contracted provider serving nearly 400 public preschool students. We continue to draw on our rich legacy while applying the evidence-based practices and differentiated curricula that our founders helped develop.

As we enter our next decade of service as the Kennedy Children’s Center, we remain true to the mission that led to our creation: providing high quality education services to young children with developmental delays, in partnership with families and communities. Under the sponsorship of our affiliate,  Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, Kennedy Children's Center continues to fill a critical gap in New York City education.

Our Services

 Special Education Preschool

Circle Time in the Classroom

Circle Time in the Classroom

Our preschool is for children from 2.9 to 5 years of age who have been determined as having a significant delay in one or more areas of development.

We focus on purposeful play and learning experiences that invite participation, encourage social and emotional relationships, and engage the senses that help children explore their environment.

Classes are small, either 8 or 12 children, and are led by NY State certified early childhood special education teachers and two teacher assistants. Goals are aligned with the NY State Pre-kindergarten Foundation for the Common Core. This allows us to differentiate instruction as needed while ensuring that all children are held to the same high standards and expectations as children without developmental delays.

If you are a resident of Manhattan or the Bronx and are interested in special education preschool services for your child, you can contact us here.

Related Therapy Services

Occupational Therapy at KCC Manhattan

Occupational Therapy at KCC Manhattan

KCC provides Related Therapy Services that include Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech-Language Therapy, and Counseling services.

These services are open to children age 2.9 to 5.0 years old who meet the eligibility requirements for therapy set by the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), following an initial evaluation and on the basis of ongoing annual assessments. KCC provides related therapy services to nearly 400 preschoolers each year. If you have questions about related therapy services at KCC, you can contact us here.

Family Support Program

Bilingual Parent Workshop at KCC Bronx

Bilingual Parent Workshop at KCC Bronx

Our Family Support Program, overseen by our Director of Family Services, is dedicated to providing support and training for parents and caregivers to help meet the unique demands of raising a child with special needs. We provide parents with opportunities to participate in their child’s education, help them understand their child’s needs, and support them through their parenting journey.

We host family workshops in English and Spanish on a range of topics, including educational advocacy, behavior management, toilet training, transitioning to kindergarten, speech and communication, sensory integration, and resources for
children with disabilities. There is also specialized training for parents of children with autism. Our workshops are led by KCC staff or by outside agencies including Synergia, Ramapo for Children, and YAI.

Our Family Support Coordinators help parents with individual needs, referrals to community resources, and an array of special disability services and benefits. FSCs also provide assistance when it is time for Turning Five parents to apply for Kindergarten.

Our Team

Executive Staff

The Kennedy Children's Center is led  by a talented group of professionals who bring years of experience in education and nonprofit management to our agency – as well as a passion to help young children and their families.

I’ve always been drawn to children with special needs. I had a bunch of stuffed animals when I was a kid, and I’d sit them in rows and pretend to be their teacher. There was one bear named Moscow who had a broken eye and ripped ear, and I’d always make sure that the other animals were especially nice to him. So I knew early on that I wanted to be a special education teacher.
— Jeanne Alter, Executive Director in her interview with Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York

Jeanne Alter - Executive Director
Kristy Chau - Education Director: Manhattan
Carolyn Cleveland - Director of Operations and Communications
Tristan Dulangon - Director of Clinical Services: OT/PT
Geraldo Feliciano - Education Director: Bronx
Khadija Grant - Curriculum Director
Nancy Hirsch - Director of Family Services
Brigid McCrory - Curriculum Director
Mary McKillop - Associate Executive Director
Victorio Milian - Human Resources Consultant
Bhupendra Shah - Director of Finance
Joe Spanberger - Director of Information Technologies (IT)

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is comprised of an active group of volunteers who provide their time and talents to oversee the work of the Kennedy Children's Center. The Board’s responsibilities include determining KCC’s mission and purposes, developing agency resources, assessing the agency's management, and advancing KCC’s public image and standing.

It is an honor and a privilege to act as Chair to one of the first special education schools in the country. Sixty years after its establishment, the Kennedy Children’s Center remains at the top of the field in early childhood special education.
— Michael O'Conor, Chairman of the Board

Michael O'Conor, Chair
Kenneth Lohsen, Treasurer
Melissa Salerno, Secretary
Randolph Amengual
Joseph Gannon
John Gibbons
Adam Goldstein
Andrew Kraus
Catherine Lenihan
Lawrence F. McGovern
Clara Ornes
Michael O'Shaughnessy
Dr. Pola Rosen
Madalena N. Sheehan-Clausen
The Reverend Monsignor Kevin Sullivan
Marina Vannucci

Additional Information:

2018 Annual Report

2016-17 Form 990