Child Development Center finds new home in Dearborn

Oakwood Healthcare Inc. (OHI) and U-M-Dearborn are working together to transform a vacant Dearborn building into a state-of-the-art learning center housing acclaimed clinical and educational programs for kids, families and future teachers.

OHI last year purchased the former UAW/Ford Dearborn West Family Service and Learning Center, a 38,000-square-foot building located on Rotunda near Oakwood Boulevard in Dearborn. The building will house Oakwood's Program for Exceptional Families, which provides numerous services and oversees the care of children with multiple disabilities and their families.

U-M-Dearborn's Child Development Center (CDC) also will move into the space later this year, allowing for larger enrollment and expanded program opportunities for children and their families, as well as for University students in teacher preparation programs. The Board of Regents approved the lease agreement at the July 17 meeting.

In addition, the facility will house Oakwood's patient-care training facility, designed to enhance the skills and preparation of front-line caregivers throughout the Oakwood system.

Oakwood Healthcare and U-M-Dearborn entered into a collaborative agreement in December 2006 that focused on building a comprehensive, long-term relationship to support each other's missions for education, clinical care, research and service to the community.

"Together, Oakwood and U-M-Dearborn will serve more families in the community and provide an asset unlike anything else in the region," says Brian Connolly, president and CEO of OHI. "The beauty of this community investment will be seen in the synergy created by these programs all being housed under one roof, allowing for essential medical care for patients, social support for their families and a state-of-the-art clinical simulation learning center that will promote education and development," Connolly says.

"This collaboration opens the door for the education of professionals to better serve children with disabilities, and specialized clinical and research services," said Dr. Susan Youngs, director of the Program for Exceptional Families. "When the medical community for kids with disabilities comes together with the education community — it's a win for the kids."

CDC serves preschool and kindergarten children and their families in a program that also serves as a model teacher preparation and child-study facility for the School of Education, says Professor Mary Trepanier-Street, director of the program.

"Working together with Oakwood and its Program for Exceptional Families will broaden the opportunities for our students and faculty members," she says. "The new facility is not just a better space for both of our programs, but a genuine manifestation of our commitment to work together to provide better care for all children, not just those in our programs, but those who will benefit from the research we will be able to do, and from the education and service our graduates will provide to children in the generations to come."