GoodLife’s North Star Child Development Center is expanding in 2021 – we’re growing our classrooms, capacity, staff, and enrollment eligibility to serve more children, both typically developing and those who need more support. The center is home to two Children’s Services programs: the North Star Academy (NSA) is an early intensive behavioral intervention program serving children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) (primarily autism) ages 2-1/2 through 12 years old; and the Johnson County Montessori School (JCMS), a preschool and childcare center for typically developing children ages 2-1/2 years to kindergarten.
GoodLife believes a life of dignity and independence is possible, even for our little ones. We merge both programs under one roof, so we can be an inclusionary site for all children and their wide range of needs. Across the students and staff, the integration teaches healthy development while naturally embedding unique and critical social opportunities that teach inclusivity, compassion, and understanding.
Expanding to support more families
It’s our desire to provide services to as many children and their families as we can. Generous donor support through our ongoing tax credit campaign allows us to achieve two primary goals:
- Improve our technology – This enables Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBA) to remotely monitor and provide real-time feedback to teachers supporting children with autism at North Star Academy.
- Undertake renovations on-campus – This will allow us to host community inclusion events, expand our programs and classroom space, and hire staff to support our students.
We are diligently working toward being credentialed to accept Medicaid-funded children, and hope to announce that expansion soon. The number of early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) and applied behavioral analysis (ABA) programs that accept Medicaid have long waiting lists, and we want to change that. When we’re able to accept Medicaid, we can confidently and truly provide services for every child.
Making a lifelong impact
Imagine two years ago: A young child struggles to follow basic classroom instruction due to behaviors so severe, they interrupt his ability to learn and participate with a group. Jump to the present day: this same child is on his feet, dancing, clapping, playing an instrument based on instruction, and engaging in a group activity with peers. This transformation in behavior and comprehension is common among the children in our program, and we believe our uniquely structured classrooms help. Classrooms are not separated by age – instead all ages learn together. This means a child remains with the same teacher as they continue to get older, avoiding the “get to know you” transition, which can sometimes trigger regression year after year. In this way, kids and teachers continue to progress in their relationship built on trust and understanding.
Supporting children reaches far beyond the classroom. When children of mixed ages and abilities experience an environment of inclusion, support, and learning, our staff, teachers – and parents, also – get to watch them grow and thrive throughout the years. Our aim is to equip families with tools to help maintain consistency between home and school. North Star Child Development Center families find social opportunities and community with each other, and can attend parent training as well. Everything we do through our Children’s Services is meant to make a meaningful difference and lifelong impact for typically developing children, children with I/DD, and their families.
Support in a critical time
As a result of extraordinary flexibility, critical thinking, and dedication from Kristen Kunze, Executive Director of Children’s Services, we are proud to say our critical childcare and learning services continued throughout the pandemic. In a time when students and families needed support more than ever, they could rely on us for continuity of care. iLink technology also played an important role in keeping the doors open at both NSA and JCMS. Our BCBAs could monitor our kids remotely in all classrooms and common areas to continue providing feedback and learning opportunities.
Interested in enrolling your child in GoodLife Children’s Services? Explore our various options to learn which program is the best fit. We can’t wait to meet your family!
As we continue to grow our space and expand our Children’s Services, we are looking for like-minded individuals to join our teaching and administrative staff. If you are interested, please visit our careers page.
Want to help us with the expansion of these incredible programs? Remember, right now your donation may be eligible for a tax credit worth 50% of your gift–meaning every dollar goes twice as far. Contact us to learn more or visit our website to make a donation.