"As a parent, I was struck by several things that make this preschool program different from others. First, it's an 11-month, half-day preschool. For us, this has provided a consistency that m… Read More
"Finding out about the Lucy Daniels Center changed all of our lives. Not only did we find help for our son, we found a network of child psychologists, phenomenal teachers, and the support of o… Read More
"Contacting the LDC was the best decision I ever made for my son. I can't begin to thank you and your staff enough for giving us a chance to find out what my son's real problems were and how t… Read More
"Three years ago, my older child was an enigma- very smart, funny, creative, but also terrified of light fixtures, ceiling fans and bathroom faucets. She was defiant, loud, sometimes very aggr… Read More
"To make a long story short, we had a great many difficulties with our daughter, when my husband and I relocated our family to the Triangle area from Canada. Our daughter and my husband and I … Read More
"I have visited many therapeutic preschools both in the U.S. and abroad, but your program is the most impressive that I have had the privilege to observe. The facility is superb and ideally su… Read More
"The toll of a loved one's death, divorce and chronic illness can complicate the lives of a child and his/her family that each day's burdens feel unbearable for all involved. Aches and pains, … Read More
Witness his performance on the stage, and you might never know that, as a three-year old, he was so unnerved by social dynamics that he would bark at people instead of speaking. Watch him put … Read More
As the Lucy Daniels Center celebrates its 25th year of service to the children of the Triangle, staff and parents who were there in the beginning are taking a look back at the journey that has made it the area’s largest and most comprehensive non-profit provider of mental health services for children. It all started in 1991, when the Lucy Daniels Preschool opened with four students who were facing challenges including depression, aggression, and anxiety.
The idea behind the preschool, Center co-founder and clinical/executive director Donald Rosenblitt, M.D., explains, was to apply the understandings gleaned from the psychoanalytic model to how children develop emotionally and help those who are struggling “access their greatest potential and spirit.”
Teri Smith of Cary recalls that her son, Eric, now 24, had struggled to handle emotions such as frustration and jealousy in peer interactions at his earlier preschools. “He wasn’t a mean child, but he responded to [those feelings] by just charging into the situation” and behaving aggressively, she explains. “His teachers just didn’t know how to deal with that.”
“I was willing to acknowledge his issues,” she adds, “but no one could tell me what they were—they just complained about his behavior. Once we were at the Lucy Daniels Preschool, we got helpful feedback about his behavior and how to help him. I felt like, ‘Oh, thank goodness, I can breathe again.’”
The Smiths’ story (and those of other families featured in our Testimonials and Connect newsletters) makes it easy to see why the preschool has grown into one of the Triangle’s most trusted resources for parents. At the time, though, no one—not even the school’s founders—could have predicted such success. For one thing, public awareness of childhood mental health challenges was just beginning to dawn.
As Rosenblitt explains, “In those early years, we had the task of helping the community understand who we were and who we helped. I remember the good people from the church in Morrisville watching us carefully as families arrived in the driveway—I suspect, wondering who we were and what we were.”
He adds, “Over the months that followed we came to form a close relationship with them as they realized that our children were like all other children, just with an added struggle.” For the Smith family’s two younger children, the Early School was a place where they could grow and thrive as their brother had earlier. Their mother says that knowing that her children’s teachers had access to expert resources in early childhood development and mental health made her “very happy. I had a lot of trust in [the staff] and was glad they were opening up their program to everybody,” Smith says.
By the start of the Center’s second decade, the Lucy Daniels Preschool had become the Lucy Daniels Center for Early Childhood, with an on-site mental health clinic serving 65 children and their families. With the brisk growth of that program and the addition of SecurePath, an in-home therapy program for young children from low-income families, in 2005 and of First Friends, a social skills development program, in 2011, the Center is now serving more than 600 families annually and reaching 30,000 more through community outreach programs such as Lucy’s Book Club—a significant increase from that first handful of families who, as Rosenblitt says, “took a gamble, on faith, on a program that didn’t yet exist.”
For his own part, Rosenblitt says, “I had absolutely no idea that it would be what it is now. The transformation of the Lucy Daniels Preschool into the Lucy Daniels Center—from a small school to a comprehensive community agency with a school at its heart—was a step I never imagined.”
But then he adds, thoughtfully, “If I had been prescient enough to imagine it, it would have been a brilliant conception of what an appropriate—obvious, really—evolution should be for us: to find a way to be more for the community.”
-Teri Smith, parent of an Early School students