United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona’s Early Learning Center (ELC) is a high quality developmentally appropriate learning environment serving children ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age with and without disabilities. Although most of the children at the ELC are developing without delays, 30% of the children have physical and/or cognitive delays that may related to a disability. This unique environment promotes growth in all the children at the ELC. The children with disabilities are challenged by peer modeling of developmental skills by their classmates. The children without disabilities learn acceptance and understanding of others who are different from themselves through opportunities for friendship. The ELC’s inclusive environment sets the program apart by fostering empathy at an early age, preparing all the children socially and emotionally with invaluable life skills.
The ELC has low staff to children ratios to allow children to be engaged in learning opportunities within age and developmentally appropriate groups. The ELC strives to stay with in the following ratios:
- Infant Room: 4 infants to 1 adult
- One- Year- Old Room: 5 children to 1 adult
- Two- Year- Old Room: 7 children to 1 adult
- Preschool Room: 10 children to 1 adult
As the UCP ELC staff is knowledgeable in child development, each child is placed in the appropriate classroom not only according to age but ability. Children are routinely screened using the following assessment tools: Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ) and Teaching Strategies Gold. In addition, through collaboration with UCP’s early intervention program and clinic therapy program, ELC staff has other professionals to collaborate and consult with. The clinic therapy team provides opportunity for additional developmental screening for the three younger classrooms and an early handwriting screening for the Preschool annually for families who are interested. Some children attending the ELC are able to receive feeding, occupational, speech, and physical therapy during their program day. If the child has services through the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), the child may request to be seen before drop off or after pick up for the caregiver to attend.
The staff in the UCP ELC is highly qualified, trained and dedicated to ensure the highest level of care and education for each child. Several ELC staff has been at UCP for several years and have children who do or have participated in the UCP Early Intervention, clinic therapy and/or the ELC programs, creating a unique family-oriented atmosphere. Staff is trained to provide the children with various age appropriate activities that engage the children and facilitate learning opportunities. The children are encouraged to learn through play. Classroom activities encourage peer to peer interactions and foster social-emotional growth and development. The classrooms and play areas have been designed for safety and to ensure a healthy environment for the children. Our playground and classrooms are accessible according to American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide opportunities for all children to have the ability to participate. Trees cover the grounds and the Preschool area has a garden that the children can learn about growing plants. The UCP ELC is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.