our story

When The Special Children’s Center began,

It had no business plan. No board. No building. No donors.
It was just three friends with a passion for helping—and a need whose urgency few fully understood
Back in 1996, Jenine and Chaya couldn't have imagined what The Special Children's Center would become or the thousands of families it would one day impact.
Chaya Jenine
All they knew was what they saw around them: Marriages unraveling, parents breaking down under stress, siblings harboring resentment and shame toward their special needs brothers or sisters, and children struggling with disabilities who were not getting the care and love they deserved.

At the time, Jenine and Chaya had been helping out two families who had special needs children, visiting their homes once a week after school.

But they soon realized that there were more families who needed their help. And that it wasn’t enough to help these families cope once they were already buried under the weight of a crisis. They needed intervention sooner.

The energized teens came up with a plan. They rented an apartment in a central location and opened their doors to any child with special needs who wanted to come twice a week. They called it, simply, The Center. It wasn't anything fancy or grand, but it was filled with love and hope, and a deep sense of purpose.

Four kids became five, then ten, then twenty. Word spread, volunteers stepped up, and more families found the support and love they so desperately needed.

It wasn’t easy—there were multiple apartment moves, financial struggles, and the ongoing necessity to combat stigmas that often surround special needs children.

But Chaya and Jenine never lost sight of their mission—or the deep sense of love and compassion that drove them to help these families.

Today, The Special Children’s Center is a non-profit organization impacting thousands of children and adults, supported by a vast network of volunteers, with beautiful, fully equipped facilities in the hearts of New Jersey and New York.

The Center family

But more than that, it's a place where families find hope, where children find acceptance, and where love knows no bounds.

meet our staff