Goodbye without tears

September 21, 2016
What if she doesn't want me to leave? What if the teachers can't understand what she wants? What if she cries? These are the kind of questions parents may ask themselves on the first day of preschool, but for Priscila’s parents, it is a memory of the day that changed their lives forever.

Separation anxiety caused Priscila to scream for her parents not to leave on the first day of preschool, but the staff assured her mom and dad that she would be okay. When they returned at the end of the day to pick up Priscila, they found her lying in a corner of the room – unresponsive. Staff thought she had cried herself to sleep, but she had actually suffered a stroke.

Therapeutic preschool closes the gap

The traumatic event required brain surgery to heal the extent of Priscila’s stroke, and her parents experienced an extreme sense of guilt. How would they ever trust anyone to care for their child again? Thankfully Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center was there to help.

Priscila’s parents enrolled her in the Therapeutic Preschool (Day Treatment Intensive Program) at the center. It is the only program of its kind in the area, and fills a critical gap in care and services for children who require early intervention due to neurological, behavioral and psychological issues. 

Children who come to the center have suffered from challenges related to prenatal substance exposure, attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or abuse and neglect.

A new beginning

After several months of intensive therapy, both Priscila and her parents were able to trust a new setting and separate from each other without fear. The compassion, understanding and expertise that Providence caregivers offered made all the difference – and services were provided at no cost to the family.

Improving access to care for hundreds of families, and counting

Providence identified in its community health needs assessment that access to intensive services for preschool-aged children with behavioral and learning challenges was a significant area of need. In response, Providence operates the Therapeutic Preschool as part of a $1.5 million annual investment for the Child and Family Development Center.

Since it began in 1992, the program has helped over 500 children reach their full potentials.