News Article Details

NEIU building new center for early intervention

Times-Tribune - 1/8/2019

Jan. 08--DUNMORE -- As young children with autism learn in Maura Healey's classroom, she can see progress out the window.

Soon, Healey's classroom and others in which children receive early intervention services from the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit will move to a new adjacent building that will provide needed space and opportunities.

"It will be nice to be all together," said Healey, lead teacher for early intervention. "Our best asset is one another."

The NEIU, which provides services such as speech support and physical therapy for 1,100 children ages 3-5 in Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties, began construction on the new facility on Chestnut Street last year.

Over Christmas break, crews placed the 6,000-square-foot modular building on its foundation. The NEIU plans to start moving into the building this spring, with the new center fully operational at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Last school year, the NEIU consolidated four separate centers to classrooms at the renovated Jefferson Center, 185 E. Pine St., which also houses students in the multiple handicap program. The agency now calls the property the NEIU Learning Campus Dunmore.

The new two-story building, which will include a brick facade and vinyl siding, with shake siding in the gables, will cost between $650,000 and $700,000. The lot on Chestnut Street, behind the Jefferson Center, formerly housed a diner and apartments.

The NEIU has the state contract to provide services for children ages 3-5 who need support with speech, learning disabilities and other physical and developmental issues. The state funds the program at no cost to families. As awareness grows, enrollment also has increased.

The early intervention program will rent the building from the NEIU, at a cost less than renting the separate facilities. The NEIU has a $5 million budget for early intervention. With classroom space free in the Jefferson Center building, the NEIU will likely offer programs for school-age students in the space renovated two years ago, said NEIU Executive Director Bob McTiernan.

"This will be great for kids," he said.

Between 30 and 35 staff members, including teachers, aides and therapists, will work in the new building's seven classrooms at any given time.

"I'm really looking forward to all of our classrooms being in close proximity," said Gena Bensinger, special education supervisor. "It's now a campus community."

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