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Western Queens Early Childhood Center

(WQECC) is one of the eight schools operated by Birch Family Services, a non-profit organization that serves the needs of people with disabilities.

At Birch Family Services Western Queens Early Childhood Center, our goal is to maximize a child's independence, cognitive, socio-educational, emotional and play skills. We also offer specialized services to children diagnosed with Autism. Our approach is eclectic and offers a combination of non-aversive state-of-the-art behavioral/cognitive techniques using models such as Structuring the Education of Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). We use diverse lesson formats such as discrete trials, incidental teaching, activity-based interventions, and exposure to interact with more socially developed children. Our goal is to help children develop and generalize spontaneous communication, functional and social skills.

We are located in Long Island City, Queens, New York. The population we serve is composed of three to five year old multi-cultural and multi-lingual children with disabilities. Our students come from inner-city neighborhoods within four of the New York boroughs, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. We are licensed to provide services in a wide variety of languages. The staff is diverse providing education in bilingual or alternate bilingual interim class settings. Some of the more common difficulties experienced by our children are communication disorders, ADHD, depression, motor planning issues and autism. We believe that a playground that promotes physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth should be a priority for any program that serves young children. However, children with special needs must have a play space that has easily accessible areas, is safe, and that meets their special physical needs.

Current Programs/Achievements: Our school has 9 full day classes, each with 12 children, one special education teacher and two or three teacher assistants, and 4 full day 8:1:3 classes and one 6:1:2 class that serve children with autism. Therapists conduct individual and small-group mandated IEP services. Those services are often provided in an integrative manner, in the classroom. Our Occupational/Physical Therapy Department has also created a Vision Clinic in partnership with Suny College of Optometry, whose residents provide on-site eye exams for all our children.

Our Staff: Educational/clinical and administrative staff include: Teachers, Teacher Assistants, a School Psychologist, A Social Worker, Occupational and Physical Therapists, an Intake Coordinator, and a Nurse. In addition to the principal there are two administrators in charge of supervision and implementation of curriculum.

Karen Kaja, Principal
10-24 49th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel (718) 786-1104

Western Queens Early Childhood Center