These are exciting times at United Services for Children! Because you are important to us, we would like to share some of the changes that are happening at the agency and our dreams for the future.
Since 1975, United Services has met a critical need in our community, providing education and therapy for children with developmental delays and disabilities. When all public school districts were mandated to provide pre-school special education services in 1990, St. Charles County turned to us. We now serve more than 500 children a year. However, by August 2017, schools must provide pre-school special education on site. While we will continue our pediatric therapy, inclusive early intervention, and family support programs, however; the special education of 3, 4 and 5 year olds will shift to local school districts.
Change can be difficult, but it can also mean new beginnings and growth. We know there is more United Services can do to help children of all abilities reach their full potential. As we considered our future, we began brainstorming with our families, partners and shareholders.
Many of you told us you wished there was a place where a family with children with special needs and typically developing children could all go and have fun together. Or a place where parents who have disabilities could go and fully participate with their kids.
The hallmark of United Services is its emphasis on inclusion. Here, children with disabilities and typically developing children learn and play together, in the same classroom. Our dream is to give all families the opportunity to learn and play in a fully-accessible environment, outside the classroom, any day of the week.
To this end, we are studying the possibility of creating a new children’s museum in St. Charles County. Unlike most existing facilities, our museum would be designed from the ground up for universal access. People of any physical or intellectual ability would be able to use and enjoy the museum. For example, the design would take into account children with autism who are overwhelmed by too much sensory stimulation or a father who uses a wheelchair and needs to be able to roll up to an exhibit so he can enjoy it with his children, just like any other parent.
We conducted a market study that shows St. Charles County families are yearning for an opportunity to educate and enrich their children’s lives within their own community. A truly inclusive children’s museum does not exist in the St. Louis metropolitan area, or in the country, as far as we know. A new children’s museum would improve quality of life, enrich the community, and stimulate the economy.
Our research and conversations with key stakeholders have encouraged us to continue moving forward which is both exciting and overwhelming! Good news travels fast, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share our dreams for United Services and its future with you.
There is much work to do before we decide to begin fundraising or construction. So for now, the museum is a dream—one we hope will become reality.
We value you and invite you to contact us with any questions or concerns. In the meantime, we will keep you posted on our progress. We are grateful for your continued support along this transformative journey!
President and CEO