Parents in Los Angeles are fortunate to have a number, and often a variety, of top-tier facilities and programs to help our children, from various types of therapists and therapies to learning aids and tools.
Add the Blind Children’s Center (BCC) to that list.
Developed in 1938 through the foresight of a dedicated team of Southern California Delta Gamma Fraternity alumnae volunteers, it was led by UCLA’s retiring Head of Medicine, Dr. Lillian Titcomb. Together, they founded the Nursery School for Visually Handicapped Children in a private home and, in 1954, expanded to build BCC’s current permanent home in East Hollywood to serve more children and families in the community. The Blind Children’s Center was the first of five schools founded as part of Delta Gamma Fraternity’s Service for Sight initiative.
The BCC prepares infants, toddlers and preschoolers of all abilities to thrive through inclusive, family-focused early childhood education, with a specialized focus on children who are blind or visually impaired. But its programs have been expanded in recent years to bring children with vision loss, autism, disabilities and/or complex medical conditions together with their typically developing peers to create inclusive environments where all children can experience belonging and reach their potential.
And more growth is coming. In partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the BCC broke ground in June 2023 to expand its facility infrastructure, build additional classrooms, install a nature-based playground and more. Renovations will enable BCC to increase enrollment to serve nearly 100 students each year, according to Jasmin Joya, community relations manager.
“The Blind Children’s Center serves children from birth to 5 years old and pregnant mothers,” Joya says, noting that the center offers these programs:
- Inclusive Infant/Toddler Early Head Start Programs. The Infant Program is for pregnant mothers and children from birth to 3 years old. Parents/caregivers and their children meet two days per week for three hours in a small group setting that is staffed by Parent Educators
- Center-Based Toddler Program is for children from 18-36 months-old, is fully inclusive, has small size classes in the BCC’s licensed child-care center and is staffed by teachers.
- The Inclusive Preschool Head Start Program is for children 3-5 years old, also offers small size classes in its licensed childcare center and is staffed by a teacher and two associates.
BCC’s programs provide comprehensive education, health, mental health and nutrition services, as well as coordinated therapeutic services, including sensory development, orientation and mobility, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech/language development and braille pre-literacy skills. Joya notes that the BCC served more than 50 families last year.
We asked Bianca Ciebrant, BCC Program Director, about the most gratifying part of her job. “It comes years after the family has left BCC,” she says. “When students return to visit when they are in 3rd grade, 7th grade, high school and share their own stories of successes, challenges and accomplishments, that is most gratifying. When their parents say, ‘Remember when the teacher worked every day with him on a particular skill, and now he shows others how to do it!’ Or ‘Remember how much I hated to do something and now it’s my favorite thing to do!’ When families share those stories and are really reflecting on the dedication that BCC staff had with their child to guide and teach them, always touches my heart.”
“Another gratifying moment comes when parents become advocates and join organizations for children with visual impairments or special needs on higher levels.,” Bianca adds. “We currently have a mom who has been with us for over 10 years as her older child attended BCC and now her younger child. Both children have special needs. She started as a quiet, new parent and now is the chair of our Policy Committee and represents BCC on a county level at the LACOE PC meetings. To see her growth over the past 10 years and know that this is just the beginning, makes me proud of the work we do.”
To learn more about the BCC, visit blindchildrenscenter.org.