Inspired after attending a Cerebral Palsy fundraiser, Veryl Anderson and Cindy Stocking (both Registered Nurses) decided to create a respite care service for local families in need. Veryl and Cindy took their idea to the Rector of Christ Church in Andover. A program concept was developed and the Christ Church Professional Nursery for the Handicapped was created in the basement of Christ Church, initially serving four children.
Granted licensure to become a Chapter 766 school, area school districts began sending children with special needs to the program. The program quickly grew to enroll 50 children from Merrimack Valley. The Department of Mental Retardation (now known as the Department of Developmental Services) took notice of the program and asked Veryl and Cindy to serve mentally handicapped children as well, which made the Center one of the first Early Intervention programs in the state of Massachusetts.
Became an independent not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) agency and took the name, The Professional Center for Handicapped Children, Inc.
Moved to 32 Osgood Street in Andover, which was both large enough to accommodate the number of children being served and fully-accessible. This location allowed the Center to meet the changing needs of many more local children.
Acquired leased space in Lawrence to house the Early Intervention Program, as demand for Early Intervention soared.
Piloted an integrated toddler group to bring children with developmental delays together with typically developing children. The concept of the “Two by Two” toddler playgroups caught on quickly. The term “Handicapped” was removed from the formal name to be known as The Professional Center for Child Development. During this time, The Professional Center was selected to operate the Northeast Regional Consultation Program for the state of Massachusetts.
In 2006, we opened the doors to new 8,000 sq. ft. addition to the Andover office. The age limit for participation in our Developmental Day School increased to 10, and the school day lengthened to include time for structured curriculum and therapies. After the success of the “Two by Two” toddler program, a “Two by Three” integrated preschool for 3-5 year-olds was added.
PCCD continues to experience growth in its Early Intervention program. After another local Early Intervention program closed, PCCD took action to ensure the displaced children did not experience a lapse in services. Seemingly overnight, our program grew by 150 children. Continued growth, we moved to a new, even larger location in Lawrence.