Home / News / Nonprofit preschool serving children with autism set for Waterville move – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

Nonprofit preschool serving children with autism set for Waterville move – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — A nonprofit preschool in Oakland that serves children with autism and different particular wants is getting an enormous increase with its deliberate move to the previous Seton Hospital campus on Chase Avenue in Waterville.

Woodfords Family Services at 47 Heath St. will move on the finish of the yr into a brand new $900,000 constructing constructed for Woodfords on the Chase Avenue property.

The 5,100-square-foot faculty, constructed by H.E. Callahan Construction Co., of Auburn, will exchange the present 1,500-square-foot Woodfords faculty, greater than doubling its area, in accordance with Mark Eves, who will turn out to be Woodfords’ government director on Monday and can also be the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

“The need is immediate and growing, and when we talk about early intervention with kids, timing is imperative,” Eves stated in an interview.

Eves is a wedding and household therapist who now’s improvement officer for Woodfords, a social providers company based mostly in Westbrook that serves greater than 1,500 individuals statewide with particular wants in 14 packages the company operates. The Oakland preschool is considered one of three Woodfords operates; the opposite two are in Topsham and Westbrook.

Developer Kevin Mattson, of Dirigo Capital Advisors, funded development of the brand new constructing at 30 Chase Ave. and can lease it to Woodfords, which has a 10-year lease. Mattson purchased the previous hospital property three years in the past and is planning an $8 million-to-$10 million renovation of the previous hospital constructing that may flip it into flats and workplaces.

While a groundbreaking was held for the Woodfords preschool a yr in the past, the venture was delayed due to concern about funding for such providers; however the Legislature overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a invoice, L.D. 1696, finally making the funding attainable.

Woodfords preschools function primarily with state funding via Child Development Services within the state Department of Education, and MaineCare, and obtain referrals by way of Child Development, in addition to from docs and different suppliers. Child Development, which has an workplace on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville, supplies case administration and direct instruction for households with children from start to age 5.

Woodfords raises cash for a few of its wants and decided that $75,000 was wanted to assist pay for gadgets for the brand new constructing on Chase Avenue, together with furnishings; a washer, a dryer and different home equipment; a playground that can be constructed outdoors the varsity; cubbyholes for classroom storage; and different requirements.

An annual public sale was held a few week in the past in South Portland that raised about $50,000, in line with Eves. Woodfords additionally holds an annual attraction, hosts a 5-kilometer race in Brunswick and has company sponsors.

“We try to go out and tell the story about what Woodfords does and why it is important,” Eves stated.

Mattson has been very beneficiant, he stated, not solely in setting up the constructing and providing his time and assets, but in addition in his curiosity in what Woodfords does, in line with Eves.

“He believes in the development that’s going on here,” he stated. “He has been really amazing to work with.”

Officials at Child Development Services weren’t out there for remark, however Mattson stated Friday that after he toured the Woodfords faculty in Westbrook, he was struck by how crucial the necessity was for a state-of-the-artwork constructing for the Oakland preschool and determined to constructed it.

“It’s going to be spectacular, and I think what’s most amazing about it is the population of kids that it serves,” Mattson stated.

REGIONAL REACH

Eves stated 15 children ages three to five attend the Oakland preschool, which is cramped and too small for its wants. Fifteen employees members work there as properly. The new 12-room faculty constructing with 5 loos will present area sufficient for as much as 30 children and 15 extra employees members, he stated.

Bryan Belliveau, C.E. Callahan’s venture superintendent for the brand new constructing, gave a tour of the power Wednesday for Eves and the preschool’s advisory board.

Belliveau stated development began in August and the constructing is scheduled to be accomplished Dec. 6. The one-story, wooden-body constructing options three giant lecture rooms with a number of home windows and lightweight, in addition to a reception space, area for mother or father and employees conferences, a motor expertise improvement room, an arts and crafts room and different rooms.

Painting is scheduled to start out Wednesday, and acoustic ceilings shall be put in all through the constructing, Belliveau stated.

Heavy gear was working outdoors, doing earthwork to organize for putting in energy to the constructing and telecommunications, he stated.

Betsy Tipper, a member of Woodfords’ preschool advisory committee who toured the constructing, stated she had been watching it go up however Wednesday’s tour offered her a primary glimpse inside.

“I’m very impressed with the thoughtfulness in how they designed it,” Tipper stated. “It’s appropriate for our area children.”

Children who attend the Oakland website are from central Maine and past. One boy travels day by day from Jackman — greater than 80 miles away — to attend the varsity, in response to Eves.

“That just demonstrates the lack of availability of services and our regional reach,” he stated.

SERVING CHILDREN

Thomas R.W. Longstaff, one other advisory committee member who took the tour, stated the area represents an enormous enchancment for employees and college students.

“It’s going to serve the children so well,” stated Longstaff, who is also a state consultant from Waterville. “Having a new facility rather than one adjusting to your use means things can be, from the outset, the way it’s most efficient to have them. I’m excited. I think it’s going to be great.”

Other committee members who toured the constructing Wednesday have been Tiffany Laliberty, who’s a member of the Waterville Board of Education, and Dan Eccher, a Waterville lawyer.

Founded in 1967, Woodfords packages and providers, in addition to preschools, embrace people who deal with group case administration for children, teenagers and adults; housing for adults who cannot reside independently; in-residence help providers to assist children be a part of household and group life; psychiatry providers, together with medicine administration; outpatient remedy; house and group remedy; coaching packages for mother and father and professionals; peer help teams for children with siblings who’ve particular wants; day packages for adults with particular wants that target group inclusion; administration of month-to-month exercise night time for adults with particular wants; therapeutic foster care; and behavioral session.

Preschools assist to show the children cognitive expertise and speak, communication, play and leisure expertise, pre-teachers, discount of undesirable conduct, self-assist expertise and social expertise, in response to the Woodfords website.

The employees and caregivers at Woodfords do exceptional work with children, stated Mattson, the undertaking developer, who stated he’s dedicated to furthering that work. Initially, the Oakland preschool was to have moved into the Seton constructing itself after renovations have been accomplished there, however Woodfords wanted to move extra shortly find a spot, he stated.

Mattson stated he sees hundreds of thousands of dollars going to high schools for athletic fields and different actions, however not almost sufficient is spent for early childhood schooling and providers, which is the place that want is most crucial.

“It should be the first place the money is spent. It should be the highest priority, but it isn’t,” Mattson stated. “It starts at a very young age. This is a high-need population, but it is so important to communities — particularly rural communities — to have access to facilities like this. Urban communities like Portland often have an advantage in that way.”

Mattson, a member of the board for Maine Early Childhood Learning Investment Group, which consists of chief government officers who increase cash for early childhood initiatives, will host a profit dinner Nov. 1 in Waterville for Woodfords that may deliver excessive-finish Portland cooks to organize the delicacies.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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