Founded in 1958, the Kennedy Children’s Center (KCC) was a pioneer in early childhood special education. As we mark 60 years of continuous service to New York City children, we are still benefiting from our rich legacy, even while continuing to grow and evolve to meet the changing needs of the communities we serve.
In our six decades of service, we have transitioned from a small private school run by the Daughters of Charity to a NYCDOE-contracted provider serving nearly 400 public preschool students. We apple the evidence-based practices and differentiated curricula that our forerunners helped create. Learn more about our journey below, and learn how you can support us as we look forward to many more years of serving young children with special needs and their families.
Kennedy Child Study Center (KCSC) is established “to conduct research relating to the physical, mental, moral and social development of children” with special needs and provide day care and clinical services. We open with 18 enrolled students ranging from 4 to 8 years old, and provide nearly 200 clinical evaluations in our first year.
The Daughters of Charity of St. Joseph’s enter into an agreement with the Archdiocese of New York to manage and operate the program.
We move into our home at 151 East 67th Street, which is purchased with funds from the Kennedy family.
Congress passes The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) asserting the right of children with disabilities ages 5-21 to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Enrollment at the Kennedy Child Study Center tops 100 and continues to grow as more young children with special needs gain access to the services they need.
Congress adds an amendment to the EHA that extends the right for a Free and Appropriate Public Education to children with special needs between the ages of 3 and 5.
KCSC opens a second location in the West Farms neighborhood of the South Bronx. Demand for preschool special education services continues to grow as the public becomes more informed about the learning needs of young children.
EHA is replaced by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reflecting a focus on individuals rather than on the conditions those individuals may have.
Sister Sheila O’Friel concludes six successful years as Executive Director of the Kennedy Child Study Center, at which point the Daughters of Charity retire from management of the program.
KCSC commissions a new logo to commemorate 50 years of continuous service to children and families. The Clinic is discontinued as the agency focuses on the preschool program.
We relocate our flagship school from 151 East 67th Street to 2212 Third Avenue, in East Harlem. The new school is custom-built to our specifications and puts us within 2 miles of over 40% of our students and staff. We purchase our school in the Bronx and begin a series of extensive renovations on the building.
In honor of our 60th anniversary, we update our name to the Kennedy Children’s Center: Where Children, Families, and Communities Learn Together. Serving nearly 400 children between the ages of 3 and 5 at two school sites, we remain true to our mission of providing high-quality education to preschoolers with special needs, while expanding our focus to parent training and workforce development. We can’t wait to see what the next 60 years hold!