CEI Stories

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August 10, 2018

Children's Odyssey

Using State Historic Tax Credits, CEI provided financing to bridge remediation and renovation costs to move Children’s Odyssey to the historic Reed School in Portland. After 25 years, Children’s Odyssey, a nonprofit childcare center focused on kids with developmental disabilities, had outgrown its capacity with 75 children enrolled.

“Over the years we have operated out of a variety of locations and we’ve made it work, but we quickly outgrew the spaces and they were never a perfect fit,” said Susan McCormick, director at Children’s Odyssey.

Management identified the mothballed Reed School on Homestead Ave in Portland, and the organization worked with CEI to purchase the State Historic Tax Credits and secure a bridge loan for its expansion.

“This is Children’s Odyssey’s second partnership with Coastal Enterprises, Inc. We are grateful for CEI’s commitment to the enhancement of community programs such as ours for which conventional financing options were limited. We could not have realized our dream of a new building and expanded programs without CEI’s support. Thank you on behalf of Children’s Odyssey’s teachers, parents, therapists, and children,” said McCormick.

As a women-owned, operated, and controlled business, Children’s Odyssey has established a reputation in the community as an organization that is meeting the needs of an often-underserved population. The childcare facility primarily works with children with autism or behavioral problems between the ages of two and five. The specialized approach and 100% Department of Education certified staff see remarkable progress in the children who go through the program, and in some instances, complete elimination of symptoms.

Children’s Odyssey currently employs 24 staff, and the expansion will create 10 to 11 new positions by early 2019. With a low turnover rate, and several employees who have been with the organization for more than ten years, the management of Children’s Odyssey is proof that offering quality jobs to employees pays off. With competitive wages, paid vacation time, insurance benefits, and paid training and certification of all teachers, the management strives to create a desirable work environment. People go into the special needs education field because of their passion for helping children, but they stay at places like The Children’s Odyssey because of the team-oriented inclusivity, open and frequent communication, and notable benefits.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony in August, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling spoke about the need for Universal Pre-K and that of the more than 500 children in Portland needing Pre-K services, only 120 are currently served. Institutions like Children’s Odyssey are critical in meeting the need.

“The mission at Children’s Odyssey is such that those children who won’t get a spot elsewhere will get one here,” said Strimling.

Neighbors of the new Reed School location are offering a tremendous amount of support for the project and are actively determining how some of the two-and-a-half acres of green space can be shared for community uses.

Learn more about the project from this video produced by Maine Preservation.

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