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Children with Developmental Delays

Educating preschoolers and preparing them to reach their full potential.

School Reopening Plan

Volunteers of America-Greater New York has put together a plan for the reopening of our two Early Learning Centers this fall. Learn what to expect, get answers to frequently asked questions, and read the full plan.


How We Help Children with Developmental Delays

Success in kindergarten is particularly important for children with special needs. Laying a solid foundation gives them the best possible chance to thrive, meet their full potential, and eventually become contributing members of society. It also sets the tone for the rest of their education.

To address these needs, we operate two schools. Our Bronx Early Learning Center (BELC) in the Bronx and Staten Island Early Learning Center (SIELC) in Tottenville are model programs that prepare 3-5-year-olds, many with significant developmental delays, for future success.

Many of the students in our schools demonstrate cognitive and language delays, social-emotional challenges, and/or sensory and motor problems. The majority of our classrooms are special education classes where students are placed based upon their developmental needs. Two of our classrooms at BELC are integrated classrooms where students with developmental delays are educated alongside typically developing peers who are part of the New York City Pre-K for All (Universal Prekindergarten Program). Instructional and therapeutic services are provided by New York State certified/licensed teachers, teacher assistants and related services providers (e.g. speech therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists).

Further ensuring that our children are receiving a quality education, both learning centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and are approved by the New York State Education Department. Additionally, our early learning centers are under contract with the New York City Department of Education to provide multidisciplinary evaluations, preschool special education & related services, Special Education Itinerant Teacher Services (SEIT), and Pre-K for All services. Our early learning centers are licensed by the New York City Department of Health/Mental Health Bureau of Child Care.

Parental Support

Our teaching staff and social services staff encourage the involvement of parents and caregivers and offer support groups, individual support, educational workshops, team and individual meetings regarding their child’s progress, preparation for the transition to school age services, and special events at both of our early learning centers. Topics for training/support may include: information on parental rights/advocacy, health concerns, working with behavioral challenges, and aspects of child development.


As approved evaluation sites, our two early learning centers provide multidisciplinary evaluations to preschool age children who present with developmental concerns. Evaluations may include:

  • psychological evaluation
  • education evaluation and classroom observation
  • speech and language evaluation
  • social history
  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy evaluation

As our students turn 5 years of age and prepare to graduate from our early learning centers, our staff work with the school districts and our families to identify the most appropriate classroom setting for each child for the upcoming school year.

The Early Learning Centers are funded by the New York State Education Department and the New York City Department of Education, and licensed by the New York City Department of Health.

For more information about our early learning centers, call (718) 466-3580.

Watch a video about Nico to see how he thrived at the SIELC:

"My son couldn’t even speak when he started school. He couldn’t say a word. But now he can become whatever he wants.”

The parent of a SIELC graduate


Both early learning centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.