Nonprofit to expand children’s services 

The largest nonprofit organization in the county serving disabled people launched a campaign Tuesday to expand its services for children with autism and learning disabilities, including doubling its preschool enrollment in Burlingame.

In collaboration with the Burlingame School District, Community Gatepath’s children’s center on Marco Polo Way will expand its preschool services from the current 45 kids to about 100 kids in the fall.

At the Burlingame center, where kids range from infants to 5-year-olds, about twenty percent of kids are special-needs children who suffer from autism or slow cognitive skills, said Kelly Stanton, children services manager. Two teachers, one specializing in special education and the other in regular education, work side by side.

Organizers also hope to raise $1.2 million by 2009 in order to launch an online network of resources for parents of kids with learning problems. The network would include Web-based training videos and question-and-answer forums as well as blogs.

"We know people look to the Internet to make the best decisions for their children," said Evelyn Cherow, vice president of children’s services.

Autism now affects one out of 150 children, according to the Center for Disease Control.

"The brain develops in a child in the first five years of their life," said Gabrielle Jones, director of community affairs. "We get to work with them and help them develop speech, language and motor and cognitive skills."

"A lot of times, parents come in and take the skills home," she said. "We empower parents to come here and continue to develop the child’s skills at home."

Community Gatepath is a Burlingame-based nonprofit organization. Its children’s center is in Burlingame, while another center for adults is in South San Francisco.

The organization serves 3,700 people. Individuals with developmental disabilities make up 90 percent of those who benefit from its programs.

bfoley@examiner.com

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