Rainbow Preschool closing will be ‘extremely challenging’ for families

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 July 2020 at 3:39 pm

ALBION – The announcement today that Rainbow Preschool is closing ends a program that is nearly 50 years old.

The school, with sites in Albion and Batavia, serves children ages 2 ½ to 5 with developmental and intellectual disabilities. There are no similar programs in Orleans or Genesee counties.

“The closure of Rainbow Preschool this close to the school year without sufficient notice presents a significant challenge to find suitable locations to provide center-based services to children in the pre-k program,” said Paul Pettit, public health director in the two counties.

The Health Department works with families to find options to preschool programs for children with disabilities.

“Our staff are currently working with all the county school special education committees to find alternate options for the school year,” Pettit said. “With such a late notice of closure, this is extremely challenging as many of the out-of-county facilities are already full so there is limited availability to take these now displaced children.”

Rainbow Preschool provided special education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, assistive technology, counseling, parent training, music therapy, and speech/language therapy for students to prepare them for kindergarten.

The school was run by the Arc of Genesee Orleans. At its peak, a former employee said the school served 300 children. The enrollment for 2020-21 was at 26 students.

“This decision was made with heavy hearts,” Donna Saskowski, Arc executive director, said in a statement.

She cited uncertain funding and declining enrollment as factors in the decision to close, as well as uncertainty with the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, no date has been given by the state for when students and teachers could return to class.

She said the Arc will work with parents and with school district representatives to find appropriate placements and ensure continuity of services.

Pettit said it will be difficult to find another preschool, especially when that is close to home.

“There is the new reality of having to bus children to out-of-county programs in surrounding counties which is challenging both on a logistics (time on the bus – could be up to an hour or more each way) and cost standpoint to the county (busing costs will increase significantly),” he said.

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