In order to better serve children affected chronic childhood trauma, or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation is launching a capital campaign to develop and implement a Therapeutic Preschool in Chattanooga.
"Each year, thousands of children living in East Tennessee become victims of abuse and trauma. In the 2015 reporting period*, more than 3,200 cases of child abuse were reported in Hamilton County. Children who experience ACEs can struggle to succeed in school or lead a healthy life.
"The Helen Ross McNabb Center (HRMC) believes it is especially important that these children who experience trauma and abuse receive the treatment they need in a safe and therapeutic environment.
While HRMC offers a wide array of services, intensive early intervention services are needed in Hamilton County.
"The absence of this type of preschool for young children results in family dysfunction continuing and preschoolers being unprepared for school. The eventual outcomes for children who are not appropriately identified are chronic emotional turmoil, behavioral problems at home, academic underachievement and potential criminal behavior. Our community needs services for young children to create a healthier community," officials said.
“Adverse childhood experiences are toxic to brain development,” said Gayle Lodato, the Center’s senior director of Hamilton County services. “Children enrolled in our Therapeutic Preschool program learn to identify emotions and how to effectively express them in everyday situations.”
Therapeutic Preschool is a 10-week program, operating three hours a day, three days a week. Children in Therapeutic Preschool have special emotional needs that many childcare and school facilities are not equipped to handle. Through the preschool, the children are exposed to curriculum consisting of emotion identification, appropriate coping skills, building trust and social skills training.
Funds raised for this preschool will be designated for the creation and operation of a preschool program in Hamilton County. The goal of the campaign is to raise $450,000, which will fund services for approximately three years.
Since its founding in 1972, the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation has worked diligently to support the work of the Helen Ross McNabb Center. In addition to providing leadership and direction, the Foundation’s staff and volunteer board actively raises, holds and invests funds on behalf of the Center. Funds raised by the Foundation over the past 46 years have contributed greatly toward the stability and growth of the Center," officials said.
*Data found in Tennessee’s KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child 2016