At the heart of every dream for a child is the promise of an exceptional education. At Abilities First, a child with a disability can experience that kind of outstanding academic life complete with individualized programming adapted for his or her special needs. Our team of experts recognizes the extraordinary lifelong possibilities of each child when customized early childhood education is provided. By offering a variety of preschool programs in partnership with area school districts’ Committees on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), we give our preschoolers a valuable, rock-solid foundation for their future.
With high teacher to student ratios and supplemental services available onsite at our various preschool locations, our classrooms provide remarkable educational opportunities for children with special needs in a safe and positive environment.
"Our team of experts recognize the extraordinary lifelong possibilities of each child when customized early childhood education is provided."
Based on a thorough assessment of each child’s current developmental functioning, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is tailored for each student in cooperation with their home school district. IEP goals are carried out through classroom activities, therapy sessions and during individual and small-group activities. Consultations with related service staff (physical, occupational, vision and speech therapists) ensure that the focus areas of individual therapy sessions are consistent with daily classroom activities. Nursing staff are present onsite at all times.
Abilities First Preschool, centrally located at two Dutchess County sites in Wappingers Falls and Poughkeepsie, provides a range of educational services to children, ages 3-5, who have developmental disabilities. Full school year programs and summer sessions are available at both locations for children who benefit from continuity of service. Educational success is attained through the provision of a stimulating environment and hands-on, interactive learning experiences designed to engage and motivate. Our multi-sensory approach to learning incorporates the very different needs of each child, considering their various learning styles, developmental stages and social-emotional needs.
A child’s placement at Abilities First Preschool is determined by a public school district’s Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE). Services are open to children in all districts within Dutchess County, as well as surrounding counties. An annual review meeting is held with the district CPSE to review each child’s progress, services and educational placement. Evaluation, tuition and transportation costs are fully funded by the NYS Education Department and local County Health Departments.
We carefully consider classroom placement based on the individual needs and abilities of each of our preschoolers. Our full day center-based preschool classrooms use activity focal points as the primary means of instruction. Each classroom serves 8 or 12 children and all are staffed by a certified special education teacher, a teacher assistant and teacher aides. In this setting, children are surrounded by peers with similar levels of need.
By contrast, our half-day integrated preschool classrooms, available at our Poughkeepsie site, offer children with higher skill sets the chance to participate in a classroom with some developmentally “typical” peers. Children in this setting benefit from needed intensive services, but join together with a Head Start Preschool Classroom for the other half of the day, creating a full-day model complete with everything they need to develop their skills and improve functioning. These preschool rooms consist of 18 children, a certified special education teacher, Head Start teacher, and two classroom aides.
Abilities First Treatment Facilities
Our unique treatment space at the Poughkeepsie and Wappingers Falls locations is designed to meet the physical, emotional and sensory needs of children while also allowing for family participation in their child’s therapeutic sessions. We offer a combination of 1:1 treatment space and larger shared rooms to provide each child with a theraputic program designed to meet their needs.
Highlights at our centers include:
Gait Training Equipment for ambulation/walking skills