Mrs. Ruth Ball
Mrs. Vashti Russell
Mr. Marion Russell
Mr. Lynn &
Mrs. Hazel Russell
Russell Child Development Center (RCDC) began in 1965 when a group of parents and concerned citizens in Garden City, Kansas, opened a daycare facility for children of all ages with developmental disabilities. The first location was the Optimist Building. Later, Mrs. Ruth Ball rented the home of her parents Vashti and Marion Russell, to RCDC for $1 a year, asking that it be named in their honor. Thus, the name "Russell" Child Development Center. This home was later lost to urban renewal, and RCDC moved three more times, settling at 621 Garden City Avenue for several years.
In 1976 RCDC began enrolling children of preschool age after the passage of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requiring schools to assume responsibility for providing Special Education services to all eligible children of school age. As RCDC outgrew its home on Garden City Avenue, plans were made for a new preschool facility. The original Community Development Block Grant building at 714 Ballinger opened for classes in 1980. In 1992, IDEA added a new requirement for schools to provide Special Education services to children beginning at the age of three, so children in that age group also transitioned to school-based services. By 1996, the agency focused solely on providing Early Intervention services to children birth to age three under a new provision of the IDEA, Part C. Over time, practices shifted from providing primarily center-based services for infants and toddlers with special needs to offering direct intervention supports involving caregivers in the natural environments of their homes, child care settings, and community spaces. These services are now known as RCDC's tiny-k Program.
Over the years, RCDC, as a community based not-for-profit agency, has also had the privilege of becoming the parent organization for additional early childhood education programs currently including: Targeted Case Management for individuals with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities, Child and Adult Care Food Program meal reimbursement for family child care providers, Pathways for Providers small business start-up support for family child care providers, Learn & Play Parent-Child community learning groups, Triple P Positive Parenting Program seminars and in-home coaching, Growing Together home visiting for healthy babies and optimal development, and Attachment and Bio-behavioral Catchup (ABC) intensive parenting support. All programs are offered at no cost to families in their homes and communities in 19 southwest Kansas counties.
The addition of multiple programs caused RCDC to gradually outgrow its space on Ballinger Street, thus creating the need for a capital campaign to raise funds for the construction of a larger, more functional facility. After years of campaigning, enough money was raised to break ground in the summer of 2018, and in October of 2019 RCDC moved to its new facility at 2735 North Jennie Barker Road in Garden City, Kansas. In addition to its main office in Garden City, RCDC now operates satellite offices in Liberal, Scott City, Dodge City, and Syracuse, Kansas to better accommodate its staff and growing service delivery area.
Thanks to the vision and dedication of many individuals and funders, RCDC has flourished. The organization has had a positive impact on countless children and their families' lives over the years, and enjoys a reputation for providing high-quality, effective services with integrity. With continued support and responsible stewardship, RCDC anticipates a long and bright future ahead.
A group of children and staff gather on the swingset just outside the Optimist Building.