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PDN Children’s

Our Vision

A world where all children thrive in an inclusive environment, recognized by their abilities and talents, rather than their differences.
Our Story

We desire a world where all children thrive in an inclusive environment, recognizing their abilities and talents

For centuries, communities have been marginalized or “hidden away” due to their disabilities, to include children with special needs (defined as any child who has been determined to require special attention and specific necessities that other children do not). 


In more recent times, these individuals were routinely institutionalized, denied education, and subject to discrimination in employment, housing, transportation, and other aspects of daily life. Our nation had seen a sweeping movement as early as the 60s, inspired by other initiatives such as civil rights for equity and fairness as we sought to realize a better future.


Throughout the next three decades, milestone legislation has worked to provide opportunities for youth such as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) to ensure all states had “free and appropriate” education to children with special needs. The new law emphasized   the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms by stipulating that they be taught in the “least restrictive environment” possible, a new concept. 


Before this law, 1.75 million children with special needs were excluded from public schools. Other laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and movements in self-advocacy and person­centered language made headway to ensure that stereotypes and stigmas were a thing of the past.


At PDN Children’s, we desire a world where all children thrive in an inclusive environment, recognizing their abilities and talents. Yet, we are still far from achieving a world of equality. That is why our organization was created-to help children with special needs achieve their fullest potential in the El Paso, Texas, community. We, alongside many community stakeholders, partnering non-profit organizations, and private sector champions, work to achieve our mission each day.

In the early 1940’s, El Paso was at the pinnacle of growth, with its population nearing 100,000 and new establishments opening (Hilton Hotel, El Paso Zoo, Bassett Tower) in the last ten years.

El Paso General Hospital (now known as the University Medical Center) was beginning its journey to become part of a hospital district.  Civic movements were underway to include one that would later be the result of PdN Children’s 70-year legacy. The spouses of concerned medical providers within the El Paso hospital community observed that there were no continuity of care for children with special needs once discharged from the hospital after birth, and so took action. PdN Children’s (then known as the El Paso County Chapter Texas Society for Crippled Children) opened its doors in 1948 as a result of a group of volunteers dedicated to helping children with special needs. 


PdN Children’s first home was a two-room space on the second floor of El Paso General Hospital. However, the space was quickly outgrown. In 1952, a one-story brick structure was built at 2112 Erie Street (now Murchison St.), which became the Center’s first real home. 


Responding to the needs of the community, PdN Children’s increased the variety of programs offered and for a period of time, from 1965- to 1975 supported the needs of adults. Services included a cleft palate clinic, stroke rehabilitation, and arthritis rehabilitation. 


In 1966, the R.E. McKee family donated their 8,000 square foot home at 2630 Richmond to PdN Children’s, where the organization remained until the increasing demand for service – an 800% increase in the first three years during the 1970s – limitations of space, and structural inaccessibility made a larger and more appropriate facility a necessity. 


In 1975, PdN Children’s Board of Directors chose to again concentrate its services on children because its programming roots were serving children with speech and hearing conditions, birth defects, genetic conditions, server burns, and disabilities. PdN Children’s began as a children’s facility with early programs carried out through educational settings. Many of the El Paso area preschool programs for children with special needs began at the organization and were sponsored by a local school district. 


In 1985, after years of fundraising and construction, PdN Children’s moved into its current location at 1101 E. Schuster Street, with 25,000 square feet designed especially for treating children with special needs. At that time, PdN Children’s employed nearly 50 staff members, increasing the number of children served from 600 to 1,000 annually. 


In the past 70 years, PdN Children’s’ has evolved to a year-round, high-quality early childhood education, specialized care and onsite therapeutic services center. Our identity has evolved from our title and branding as well, moving through various names to reflect the importance of person-centered language. Once also known as the El Paso Rehabilitation Center, PdN Children’s has gone through numerous transformations to adapt to the community’s changing needs in response to developments in the field of clinical, education and parent support services for the population served.