The Bronx Early Learning Center
The Bronx Early Learning Center (BELC) opened in 2007 and is located on Bathgate Avenue in the South Bronx. There are 250 students-- 234 children with developmental delays associated with autism, Down syndrome, attention deficit disorder and neurological and emotional issues, and 16 typically developing children-- attending our integrated Universal PreKindergarten Program.
The poverty rate in the community served by the BELC is the highest in New York City, about 40%. For 31% of our students English is a second language; in fact many of the children come from homes where no English is spoken at all.
Many of the children come to us capable of performing very few activities typical for children their age. With the help of our staff – teachers, physical, speech and occupational therapists, social workers and psychologists - they leave transformed. Not just talking, but interacting in meaningful ways; and not just feeding themselves and putting on their own coats, but helping other children with theirs.
Our work is so effective that 57% to 62% of our graduates with developmental disabilities attend general education kindergarten classes with only related services or integrated classes with their typically developing peers.
"Volunteers of America’s Bronx Early Learning Center is a pleasant and child-centered environment that enables students and their families to gain confidence and obtain support. I was particularly impressed at the variety of hands-on spaces [...] including areas for messy work. I know that four-year-olds can be taxing, so I was very happy to hear staff members clearly articulate why they love what they do, and why this age group is a particular joy to them."
- NYC Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina
For information on the Bronx Early Learning Center, call (718) 466-3580.