When Allie’s son Avett was born, there were several things she was not 100% prepared for: a broken leg, surgery, a diagnosis of Down syndrome and the high cost of childcare. The young family got through those first months by deciding to just “roll with it,” she explains with a calm smile directed at Avett, who is happily playing with her necklace.


Thanks to the surgery and family support, Allie’s broken leg healed after a few months. But once she was able to return to work, she scrambled to find affordable childcare that would also build a strong foundation for Avett’s future success in kindergarten and beyond. She feels incredibly fortunate that she found the Columbus Early Learning Center (CELC) on Champion Avenue, not far from her job as a social worker.


“The staff is great. His teacher has been here for over 20 years,” says Allie. “And I really appreciate everyone always being super excited to see Avett every day. I know he gets lots of love and attention when I’m not here.”


The staff, she says, is ready and willing to work with Avett’s therapists, accommodate his needs and help him meet his developmental goals. Knowing Avett can stay in the high-quality program until he’s ready for kindergarten brings Allie and her husband a peace of mind that is priceless. The occasional stress that she does feel these days comes from thinking about “what if?”


“We live paycheck to paycheck. We have medical bills from my broken leg and Avett, a lot of debt from being off work so long. What if we didn’t have this place? What would we absolutely do?” Allie wonders, her eyes widening at the thought. “I really, really don’t know.”


As it is, Allie is able to confidently focus on her career and Avett’s future, which she dreams will include full inclusion into classrooms and the community. She’s hopeful he will accomplish anything and everything he wants without limitations and barriers. She feels certain, she says, that CELC will help her vision of his future come true.


“CELC will help prepare Avett for kindergarten by giving him the unique and individualized attention he needs, that every kid needs, to not only know and understand necessary material, but to also learn behaviors that are positive in the classroom and other settings,” she says. “This will give him confidence in kindergarten, as well as that foundation of believing he is capable of accomplishing any goal.”

Donate today to United Way of Central Ohio’s Community Impact Fund. You’ll provide families with access to high-quality early learning programs that will help kids start school better prepared for educational success.

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