As a special education teacher in the Jacksonville, Florida public school system, Amy Buggle chaired a committee to find services for children with handicaps. She found that day care was simply not available for children with moderate to severe handicaps. With the help of the Murray Hill United Methodist Church, she left her secure teaching position and founded DLC Nurse & Learn, offering special education services, physical therapy and extended day care for children of all abilities.
As more needs were identified as not being met in the community, Amy added more services. Children with medically complex situations were not allowed in the existing special needs programs, so DLC hired a registered nurse and medical assistants. Those children who were previously denied could now attend school and socialize with other children. This allowed the parents of these children who were forced to stay at home, some on welfare, the opportunity to attend high school, college or to work while their child was in a safe and productive environment.
Since 1989, the center has served students with special needs, from birth to 22 years of age. Children from birth to 6 years may attend a full day preschool program and students’ ages 3-21 may also attend before/after school for educational activities, therapy and medical care. Any child with a disability or medical problem, which prevents them from attending regular day care or other developmental preschools, is eligible for service. The children have a variety of disabilities including cerebral palsy, microcephaly, anencephaly, Down’s Syndrome, Arthrogriposis, tuberous sclerosis, Taisacs disease, tracheostomy, gastronomy tube, seizure disorders, open kidneys, etc.
DLC now provides full-time nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and vision therapy. DLC has a volunteer program serving troubled youth, which allows them to fulfill community service hours and learn valuable lessons working one-on-one with disabled children. Many other youth also volunteer after school, on holidays and during the summer.
Due to family situations, some students attend on scholarships and others pay reduced charges. Only six percent of the budget goes to administrative expenses. Medical supplies, medical equipment, therapy toys and the everyday items such as rubber gloves, thermometers, etc., must be purchased from meager funds. DLC is a United Way program and receives some monies from them. However, this is just to keep up the day to day running of the center, many of the extras such as toys or books are either donated or have to wait for funds.
The center must rely heavenly on contributions from outside sources for day-to-day operating expenses such as rent, telephone, janitorial services, etc. But, through the grace of God, the center has survived. DLC has now acquired funds from The Jaguar Foundation and from The Jacksonville Children’s Commission, to open a second location at Lake Shore Presbyterian Church.
Murray Hill United Methodist Church also has a preschool on the premises, which has merged with DLC. We are now a full inclusion preschool and we plan activities and programs, which bring children with and without disabilities together, thus allowing the children to become friends. DLC has mainstreamed some of their graduates into the public schools when they were ready.
DLC gives each child individual attention. We sing to every child using their name at the beginning and the end of each “circle time”. This is when all the children come together for a morning gathering before going into their classes. The children are touched with gentle hands and soothing tones. DLC provides not only developmental skills, medical care and therapy, but also love for each special child.
Our vision is for the Developmental Learning Center to be housed in other churches in other areas of town, to serve more children, and to provide the transportation for these children to attend the center. Amy receives calls for help every day and must, with a heavy heart, turn some away due to limited space.
Your tax exempt donation would be a big help in allowing us to purchase needed supplies and the capability of hiring more therapists. It also could help make possible the first steps of realizing the vision for all of the beautiful special children, God has entrusted to our care.
Thank you for your consideration in assisting DLC to grow. With your help DLC can continue to be the place “Where Anything Is Possible”.