Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services is the recipient of a $1.5 million gift by Henry and Marcia Baron. The generous gift will benefit Vista’s Julia Ann Singer Center, nationally recognized as a model educational program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other special needs.
“This tremendous gift clearly is a reflection of Henry and Marcia’s deep commitment to improving the lives of children with autism and providing their families with a resource that will serve as a real community center,” said Elias Lefferman, PhD, CEO of Vista Del Mar. Noting that Baron has been an active supporter of Vista’s Julia Ann Singer Center for more than 60 years, “The Barons truly embody the spirit of Vista Del Mar and our philosophy of meeting children where they are and employing the therapies that will help them advance in the classroom and in life,” he continued.
The Barons’ gift follows upon the Joan Baron Scholarship, which Mr. Baron established at Vista in 2002 in honor of his late wife. The scholarship funds services for children in the critical “gap” period between their diagnosis and, for those who are eligible for public support, when public funding of their therapies and educational services begins. “I am very blessed, and believe it is important to give back to our community,” Henry Baron said.
In recognition of the gift, the Julia Ann Singer Center non-public school will be renamed the “Henry & Marcia Baron School for Exceptional Children.” The school will add an additional classroom to the current structure and existing classrooms will be remodeled and refurbished. Key to the Barons’ intentions for application of their gift, Vista will establish an early intervention program that will enable toddlers and preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum to benefit from a full range of therapeutic services. In addition to speech/language and occupational therapy and educational classes, the Barons’ gift will enable Vista to broaden its range of services for this age group to include art, drama and a variety of multi-media forms of self-expression. “We know that early intervention is best for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Henry & Marcia Baron School for Exception Children will stand as a model for employing all the resources that will allow a child to develop emotionally and academically,” said Lefferman.
With classes for preschoolers through sixth grade, the school will benefit from Vista’s small staff-to-student ratio that ranges between 1:9 and 1:1 as well as the amenities of the 18-acre campus that include a heated pool and numerous specially designed recreational areas. While the goal of the intensive programming at the Henry & Marcia Baron School for Exceptional Children is to enable students to perform in a regular public or private school setting, they will also have the opportunity to continue their education at The Vista School, a non-public school also on the campus with classes through 12th grade. Construction of the new classroom and renovations will be completed this summer in time for the school to open on September 1, 2008.
About Vista Del Mar
Founded a century ago, Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services features a residential treatment facility, private adoption agency, foster-care program, non-public school, along with its four divisions that include: Family Service of Santa Monica (a community-based, social service agency that provides a broad range of support services to youngsters and families who reside in the Santa Monica Bay and West Los Angeles area) including: Home-SAFE (counseling, day care, education and advocacy for at-risk youngsters and their families); Julia Ann Singer Center (comprehensive therapeutic programs for families whose children are emotionally disturbed, learning disabled or developmentally delayed); and Reiss-Davis Child Study Center (diagnostic evaluations of and therapeutic treatment for youngsters experiencing emotional, social, behavioral, and/or learning difficulties). For more information visit www.vistadelmar.org.