Community Connections | Children And Youth
Living Standards | Early Childhood Development

Providence Child Development Society

Providence combines caring and compassion with experience and expertise to provide exceptional therapeutic and educational services to young children with disabilities.

Our Story

Why We Exist

Often, families come to Providence at a very difficult time in their lives. First, the realization their child may not be developing typically; then, seemingly endless doctors’ appointments, medical tests and assessments . . . and more doctor’s appointments. Often, there remains a lot of questions and very few answers, and uncertainty about the future for their precious child and for their family as a whole.

Parents tell us stories of harsh judgement by strangers in grocery stores and playgrounds and a shrinking pool of friends as their child is excluded from birthday parties and backyard barbeques. We know parents who have taken their child to 11 doctor’s appointments in two weeks; parents whose child is 5 and hasn’t slept more than two hours at a time; a child who has been turned away from 17 childcare facilities because they cannot handle his behaviour; and moms who have chosen to end their professional careers to care full-time for their child.

The stress can be hard on family relationships, and it’s often difficult to know where to turn or what to do next for your child. But parents tell us the hardest part is wondering if anyone will be able to love and care for their child as they do, and entrusting their child’s care to strangers.

At Providence, we know. We care. And we can help.


Providence Origins:  Martha Cohen and Providence Creche

Martha Cohen was President of Providence Creche for two years and spent 10 years on the Board of Governors in the early years.. She was the first Jewish woman to hold the position of President.

The following story was submitted by Martha’s daughter, Cheryl, on the occasion of Providence’s 70th anniversary:

Martha held a meeting at her home, this was likely in the mid-1950s. The doorbell to our home rang and Martha’s son, Philip, ran to answer the door. Outside were a group of nuns wearing their full habits. Philip had never seen nuns before and yelled to his mom that there was a group of wicked witches at the door and he thinks they might have legs. Needless to say, soon afterward Philip received his first lesson about nuns and Catholicism.

It was through Martha’s work at Providence Creche that she met Father Patrick O’Byrne. From time to time, Father O’Byrne would come to our home to swim in our pool. One day my sister, Faye, asked Father O’Byrne how many children did he have. He answered none and Faye was insistent that he had children because he was called Father. Another lesson in Catholicism.

For more stories from Providence’s past, read Our Stories:

Our Impact

What We Do

  • Over 70 years, Providence has grown and changed to meet the needs of Calgary families. From a population of less than 100,000 in 1943, to over a million people spread over 835 square kilometers today, Calgary has kept the best of its western heritage, but become so much more. And Providence has done the same. From its roots as a foster home for abandoned children, Providence has kept pace with a growing population and the changing needs of the community.

Our Mission: To enhance the health and development of children and their families.

Our Vision: We believe every child deserves a chance to reach for and achieve their full potential. Working with the child, family and community, Providence provides the opportunity to build foundations that will last a lifetime.

Our Values:

  • We are dedicated to excellence in all our programs relating to the child, the family and the community.
  • We believe that children deserve a joyful, supportive, respectful and secure environment that stimulates exploration, learning and growth in all areas of development.
  • We know that learning is driven by the child’s curiosity and individual readiness, so our task is to provide age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate opportunities and expectations for each child.
  • We believe that every opportunity should be taken to prevent or ameliorate disabling conditions in children, including early interventions that can make a life-long difference.
  • We believe in ensuring that the community at large is sensitive to, and supportive of, the developmental needs of children with diverse abilities and backgrounds.
  • We believe in providing inclusive, integrated and normalized environments so that children with disabilities have the same opportunities and experiences as are available to their normally-developing peers.
  • Our Values are continued here: About Providence Children: Mission/Vision/Values.

Our Accomplishments:  Providence has always prided itself on changing and growing to meet the needs of Calgarians.

  • To address our growing waiting lists, we expanded our McKenzie Towne School to accommodate 70 additional students annually,  with the addition of 3 new classrooms and an additional therapy room.
  • Based on our reputation and our expertise, Providence is now the sole provider in the southern Alberta region of a government-funded program, Supported Child Care. The program provides expertise and support to child care programs that care for young children with extra needs or challenging behaviours.
  • Thanks to a recent grant from The Calgary Foundation, Providence is developing and delivering training and education opportunities for child care workers so they can better identify and support children with extra needs.



Our Programs

How We Do It

School-based programs:  Students get the expert attention they need – and deserve – to thrive: Each child has a direct, daily intensive educational and therapeutic program delivered by a team of certified teachers, speech-language pathologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, behavioural specialists, psychologists and educational and therapeutic assistants who work right in the classroom alongside the children.

Our low child-to-staff ratios allow for individual and small group support when necessary, while at the same time developing children’s skills in a social, play-based program.

  • Early Intervention (19 months – 30 months)
  • Enriched Preschool (30 months to 4 years)
  • Junior Kindergarten (4 to 5 years)
  • Kindergarten (5 to 6 years) Community-based Programs:

School locations: Windsor Park, Midnapore, McKenzie Towne, Beddington, Hawkwood, Falconridge

Community-based programs:  Our therapists provide critical early assessment and treatment to children through partnerships with childcare facilities and independent schools. Many of these children might not otherwise be identified as needing support until they reach Grade 1.

  • Outreach Program (assessment and treatment in childcare facilities)
  • Partner agency in RCSD (Regional Collaborative for Service Delivery)
  • Assessment and treatment services to contracted independent and charter schools
  • Parent support programs for parents of children in Providence classrooms
  • Supported Child Care
  • LEARN Program


Our Requests

What You Can Do

Paulette and Eileen had the opportunity to attend the Windsor Park location of the school recently.  It just so happened that the day they picked was the school’s Christmas celebration and they were able to join the festivities:

The school is amazing! The organization is second to none. The staff dedicated to the wellbeing of the children. The management is hands on and so proud of what they do. But the biggest indicator of how well this facility operates is the happy children!

Their smiles tell the story. We were treated to crafts that were made for us when they knew we would be visiting and the children could not wait to give them to us. There is nothing more infectious than a smiling happy child and Providence is full of them. The school caters to all of the needs of the children both with physical equipment and emotional support. What they do is truly amazing and we are proud to support their cause.

Providence is committed to ensuring our services are available to all students, and provides all services (including transportation, nutrition program and field trips) at no charge to parents.

If you want to know what YOU can do to help, consider these ideas:

  • Our students need help getting to school. You can help to ensure students safely get to school. Some parents are unable to drive their kids to Providence. For the 2015-2016 school year, $700,000 was required to help transport kids to school. (We do not charge parents for transportation)
  • Our students require very specialized therapy equipment. You can help by providing essential equipment and supplies. Many of our students rely on walkers, lifts, harnesses, and specialized playground equipment. If you would like to help with a child’s therapy equipment, the costs can range from $130 for a walker to $40,000 for specialized outdoor playground equipment.
  • Our students need nutritious snacks. You can help provide nutritious snacks for 600+ children every day. Snacks are made in our own kitchen and delivered out to schools. It costs approximately $5,000 to feed a classroom for an entire year. Total costs are $200,000+. (We do not charge parents for our Nutrition Program)

Other ways that YOU can help Providence are:

  • New Northeast School – our longest waiting lists are for our tiny two-classroom school in Falconridge. We need a new location to expand and better serve children with disabilities and their families in the NE quadrant of our city.

Annual fundraising events:

  • Dine & Deals Gala – every year, we host our signature fundraising Gala that helps us provide therapeutic and educational services to children with all types of disabilities. Our Gala is held in the spring and has a new theme every two years. Sponsors, silent auction items and volunteers are always needed to support our programs and services.
  • Wildcatter’s Golf Tournament – if you like to golf, mark your calender for August 19th, 2017 and help young children receive the therapy and education they require.


Maureen O'Connor

Providence Child Development Society


Charitable Number: 107862385RR0001

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