St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center was founded in 1961 by a group of concerned parents who saw an urgent need for quality services for children with learning and emotional challenges. St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center began providing intensive, high quality early intervention to the children as well as support, mentoring and education to the families.
Twenty two children were housed in a dilapidated building until 1986. With little money to continue their efforts, the staff was hoping for a miracle. That miracle arrived in the form of 33 generous community leaders who built a new school and are now referred to as St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center’s first “Godparents”. What they accomplished is an epic tale of good heartedness, good fortune, and series of mysterious miracles that resulted in what Bob Thompson, called “the biggest little building in Indianapolis”.
St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center has grown since 1986. We expanded our program in 1998 to the Gilliatte building at Fort Harrison in response to the increasing demands for our services. In 2016, we partnered with St. Anthony’s to operate their two preschool classrooms. Throughout the recent past, we have also operated classrooms at IPS/ Butler Laboratory School and Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. We continually evaluate additional partnerships to respond to the community need. During the 2019-2020 school year, we served 228 children. Due to the impact of COVID-19, today we reach 144 three-to-five-year-old children in poverty and their families with a goal enrollment of 192 this year.
In September 2007, St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center began the Educational Outreach Program. Since that time, we have worked with early childhood educators in our community and beyond, providing professional development opportunities to teachers with the intention of improving the quality of experiences for the children in their classrooms.