“We are so happy you’re here!”
Those words echo the hallways as children arrive at Pine Tree Society’s Early Learning Center, a unique preschool for children with disabilities who have experienced significant trauma in their young lives.
“Our number one goal from the moment our children step through the door is to make sure their basic needs are met,” said Karen McClure-Richard, Director of the Early Learning Center. “This looks quite different here than it does in a typical preschool. The reality for our children is such that we work to first ensure their physical needs are met. We make sure they have warm clothes and enough food to eat. Simultaneously we work to make sure they feel safe, loved and that they belong. We know that these pieces must be in place for the children we serve before learning can take place.”
While the preschool team is essential in ensuring that the needs of the children are met, the building that is home to the program – and children – is just as important. According to President and CEO, Noel Sullivan, Pine Tree Society is focused on making major upgrades to the aging building.
“The building has been cited as the number one challenge for Pine Tree Society as it works to have a deeper impact on the children and families in the community,” said Sullivan. “Our plan addresses critical issues around health, safety, functionality and comfort of the children we serve.”
Additionally, the plan calls for more program space to expand the Early Learning Center.
“There is a significant need in the community for our trauma-sensitive approach to early intervention,” said Sullivan. “Renovation of the building will allow us to expand our programming to meet the unmet need in the Lewiston/Auburn community and beyond.”