Our History: We are CADES
Parents with a Dream
In 1951, a small group of dedicated parents envisioned a place where their children with cerebral palsy could learn and be cared for in ways that would respect their limitations but also challenge their abilities. It was a time when special education was not common. Parents of children with special needs had to be resourceful in finding ways to help their child reach their potential. And so, with an initial enrollment of 25 children, the nonprofit United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Delaware County was born.
One of the founding members of UCP was George Crothers. Mr. Crothers was a well-known advocate for individuals with disabilities in southeastern Pennsylvania. In 1957, the George Crothers Memorial School was opened as a part of UCP. Focusing on the needs of preschool and school age children with cerebral palsy, the licensed special education school quickly began to fill an important need in the community. Over time, GCMS also began to serve the needs of children with brain damage and similar intellectual and physical disabilities.
Initially, UCP was located in Chester. It also had program space located in Ohev Shalom Synagogue in Wallingford, and in Boothwyn. In 1978, all programs were consolidated in a move to the Green Ridge Elementary School in Aston. Working through UCP, the Pennsylvania Elks began funding a Home Visiting Nurse Program in 1965. Though this program no longer exists in that form, it was the beginning of the organization’s outreach social services. In 1966, the Transportation Program was begun, initially serving children attending the UCP day programs.
In 1976, UCP began to offer its summer program for children due to strong community support. And in 1977, recognizing the growing need for services for adults with cerebral palsy, brain damage, and similar disabilities, UCP expanded again. With the opening of its Adult Day Program, UCP was able to improve the lives of many older local individuals through its services.
UCP continued to grow, building on its reputation as a well-respected organization with the strength and expertise to successfully execute its mission. In 1978, UCP opened its first Residential Program home. In 1983, the organization moved to the Swarthmore Elementary School, with the help of numerous Rotary Club members. Again responding to community needs, it opened its first child care center which was located in the nearby Princeton Presbyterian Church.
Always evolving, UCP realized that its name didn’t accurately reflect the community it served. Programs had expanded to include individuals of all ages, and with disabilities of many types. And so, in 2002, the organization formally changed its name to CADES, which stands for Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services. And in 2008, CADES finally located itself permanently, buying the Rutgers Avenue school building it had previously rented from the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District.
Working with local school districts, human services agencies, and the families of those with disabilities, CADES is now a vibrant, important resource in southeastern Pennsylvania. Through grants and the generosity of its donors, area foundations, and corporations, the five core CADES programs have grown to serve over 600 individuals each year. Now nestled in the quiet residential neighborhood of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, the dream of several parents grew from a small seedling into a large tree, protecting and nurturing those among us who live with the daily challenges of disability.