PATCHES AND BEYOND EDUCATION: a program for low-income children with life threatening illness.

AND BEYOND education- inspiring low-income children with life threatening illness to learn and grow through education.

The Problem

Future outcomes for children in poverty (15.5 million or 21% of all US children) and children in deep poverty (9.3% - 6.8 million) will almost certainly be adverse. What happens to families caught in the cycle poverty with a child who has a life-threatening medical condition? Do parents continue to work or provide care and fall into deeper difficulties? Choose between accessing medical care or staying on the job to feed the family?

How are these children educated so that they stand any chance at a viable future?

These are critical challenges that medically fragile children face that PATCHES PPEC nursing center and its AND BEYOND Education program seeks to address.

PATCHES PPEC, a not-for-profit nursing center, is a safe haven of nursing care serving medically complex children, in poverty, 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. Because life threatening illness is destabilizing for families in poverty, education is not prioritized for their medically fragile children. The AND BEYOND education program responds by providing education for 35-45 cognitively high functioning preschoolers, whose medical conditions prevent them from safely attending public school education. These cognitively healthy children fail to meet criteria for public education services and without the program would lose critical early childhood developmental milestones, impairing cognitive and academic growth and jeopardizing their future life success. AND BEYOND Education seeks to break this cycle of deprivation, by offering a unique early childhood educational program, (in conjunction with medical services) denied to these vulnerable children.

The Solution

AND BEYOND recognizes the life-long consequences of the absence of early childhood education and that the implementation of the AND BEYOND program, will maximize children’s opportunity to mainstream with their peers and participate in a healthy, functional life. Upon arrival, children are assessed cognitively and developmentally, and a strategic curriculum is established for each child. PATCHES therapists and educators work as a team, integrating the children’s therapy and education schedules, reclaiming valuable educational time for the child. Lifetime illness and social isolation from long hospital stays impact learning receptiveness for these children. Immersed in a stimulating, culturally sensitive environment, with love and care, the AND BEYOND educators steadily shift the children’s mindsets to become receptive to learning. The program uses individualized learning techniques and cutting-edge tools for those approaching school readiness, to those at a lower cognitive level. Behaviors counterproductive to learning are modified with Applied Behavior therapy.

While mainstreaming the children with their normal peer group is our ultimate goal, every small developmental step is celebrated. For Jonathan, 8 years old with severe cerebral palsy, who cannot talk but is learning to communicate with his gaze controlled Assistive Technology device, learning to play Candy Land with his eyes has opened his world! The AND BEYOND program is a small beacon of light for sick children in poverty; a model easily replicated with the potential to significantly change outcomes for low-income children and families. Who knows what magnificent potential lies within these children waiting to grace our world?

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

PATCHES PPEC, FLORIDA CITY. PATCHES PPEC not-for-profit nursing center opened in 2005. The need for early childhood education was recognized early in the history of the center. The AND BEYOND program as it is now known has been in development for the past 5 years. PATCHES plans to build a community village, which will include a school open to all children with illness in the South Dade community in the near future. Children will be able to attend the school while having their medical needs attended to on site.

This project was nominated by: