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Harwood Center provides hugs, hope, and help to the Memphis community

Story Highlights
  • In order to mitigate the risk of losing families due to an inability to pay during this time, Harwood Center has reduced tuition by 95% and is only charging a nominal technology fee for its services.

Harwood Center has been providing hugs, hope, and help to the Memphis community since 1957. Although the organization has grown and changed over the years, its mission has remained the same: to enable children with developmental needs to reach full potential. 98% of the children who attend Harwood Center are diagnosed with autism, but the nonprofit has been known to serve any child experiencing a developmental delay, and it has a reputation for enrolling children who have the greatest needs, both behavioral and financial.

Harwood Center offers Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and special education to children ages 18 months to six years. Typically, children receive services at Harwood Center’s three locations: Hope Church, Hanley Elementary, and Promise Academy. Lately, however, the way Harwood Center provides these offerings looks a little different. After having to close its doors due to COVID-19, Harwood Center didn’t waste any time launching telehealth ABA therapy and purchasing a HIPAA compliant Zoom account. Harwood Center also took this opportunity to call all the families currently on their waiting list to see if they would be interested in receiving services as an added value to the community. “We’ve opened up to new kids to try and help the Memphis area as much as we can” notes Executive Director, Rachel Lauletta. Special Education teachers have had to become more creative now than ever before, in order to engage their students virtually. Everything has been done with the intention of providing the needed support to their children and families, whether it’s something as small as changing their Zoom background for increased stimulation, or sending out entire lesson plans for parents to follow from home throughout the week.

Virtual knowledge and implementation are not the only ways Harwood Center has been growing. The organization has some very exciting new developments on the horizon such as an in-home therapy program and a partnership with the University of Memphis. Earlier this year, Harwood Center announced that it would be opening a classroom on the University of Memphis’ campus this Fall for students’ and faculty’s children to attend. This partnership will also provide a unique opportunity for hands-on collaboration with the University’s education and behavior therapy departments, research studies, and highly regarded Campus School. Next year, Harwood Center plans to relocate its entire facility in Cordova to an 8,000 square foot space on-site at the University of Memphis, as well. This relocation will allow for the expansion of their education and ABA program, in addition to the opportunity to increase enrollment and take some of their families who have been patiently waiting off the waitlist.

In order to mitigate the risk of losing families due to an inability to pay during this time, Harwood Center has reduced tuition by 95% and is only charging a nominal technology fee for its services. Although this was a decision made and supported by the board and the organization’s leadership, there is no denying that it has put a strain on the nonprofit financially. Those that are looking to help can either give monetarily via harwoodcenter.org or donate boom cards for staff to apply toward materials that are used via telehealth to provide ABA therapy via wow.boomlearning.com. If you or someone you know could benefit from Harwood Center’s services the best way to receive more information is to call directly at 901-584-8281.

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