It Takes A Village – The YES! Network to Help Special Needs Children & Their Families

 

Alyce Morris Winston, Founder of The Jeffrey Foundation for Special Needs Children & Their Families

by Maryann Ridini Spencer for VC Style

The Jeffrey Foundation (TheJeffreyFoundation.com), a non-profit Child Care/Resource Center offering educational services, childcare and counseling for special needs children, was founded by Alyce Morris Winston in 1972.

Over the past 40 years, the Foundation, which strives to improve the quality of life for special needs children (ages 18 months through 18 years), serves children with such diseases as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and autism.  Other children enrolled in their programs have a variety of physical impediments or are victims of abuse, neglect or in utero drug exposure.

At the Foundation, children and families are served through a variety of community-based therapeutic, recreational, educational and social programs including childcare, preschool, K-12 educational programming, speech therapy, occupational therapy, life skills, parenting education, after-school activities and social events.

While the Foundation serves the greater Los Angeles area, Morris Winston is also involved in a national and international outreach program, Special Child USA.  Via Special Child, Morris Winston consults with other cities, states and even countries that are interested in developing similar childcare and resource centers.

“There are over 30,000 disabled youth in Los Angeles County that are in need of special interventions,” said Morris Winston.  “Our Foundation is the only one of its kind in LA and we only have a capacity of only 124 children per day, and 40 families per month.  So the need is great — not just in Los Angeles, but everywhere.”

Morris Winston, whose adopted son Jeffrey, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was two, abandoned her career as a Max Factor model and began the Foundation after discovering that there was not enough appropriate child care, resources or support for families with special needs children.  What began in her living room is now housed in two professional buildings on West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles.

“Most of The Jeffrey Foundation’s students are referred by Child Protective Services or a Regional Center,” said Morris Winston.  “Many of the families are headed by single mothers with multiple children.  In the Foundation’s Parent Training program, over 85% of the children are in foster care and 10% are living with a parent who has lost custody at least once due to child abuse, neglect, maltreatment or abandonment.”

The emphasis of the classes and programs, which are inclusive, aim to build core competencies such as cognitive skill building, language development, gross and fine motor skills and social and emotional development, as well as provide health and nutrition education.

“We also strive to enrich our student’s lives by giving them the opportunity to enjoy some recreation and special events.  We encourage them to learn and appreciate art, music and nature.  Our mission is to improve the quality of every aspect of their live as well as serve as a support for their families,” said Morris Winston.

The current economic climate, and cuts in federal and state funding, are severely impacting the Foundation’s ability to keep some of their programs alive.  To offset some of the negative impact, Morris Winston recently came up with the creative idea of “Project 40” in honor of the Foundation’s 40 years.

Project 40 will be a series of 40 events and happenings to fight the economic turndown.  Last night, one of the Foundation’s friends, Lladro Boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, hosted a kickoff reception and launch of the YES! Network (Executives for Special Needs Children and their Families).   The YES! group will spearhead many of the Project 40 programs which will take place in Southern California as well as nationally.

Morris Winston hopes that through the YES! Network, different members of the business community will also become engaged to network, cross promote, as well as lend their expertise and support in developing new programs and fundraisers to sponsor and boost the Foundation’s needed programs.

“We support the community, and we need assistance from those in the community and beyond,” said Morris Winston.  It does take a village and we want to be around for the next 40 years!”

To find out more about The Jeffrey Foundation, Project 40 and the YES! Network, visit:

TheJeffreyFoundation.com

From Left to Right: Circle of Love Ladies: Agnes Nicole Winter, Elaine DuPont Bernard, Mara New, Alyce Morris Winston (Founder, The Jeffrey Foundation, and Maryann Ridini Spencer (YES! Network Co-Chair)

 

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