History and Mission

Our Mission

To enable children with developmental needs to reach their full potential.

Our Vision

To be the Mid-South’s leading educational and therapeutic resource for young children with special developmental needs and their families.


Founded in 1957, Harwood Center functioned as a United Cerebral Palsy Day Care center until 1970 when Harwood entered into an agreement with the University of Tennessee’s Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities and became associated with UT’s special education department as a comprehensive educational program for children with developmental disabilities. Milestones include:

  • Founded in 1957, Harwood Center serves children from birth to age five with developmental disabilities.
  • In 1972, Harwood Center became a 501(c)(3) United Way agency. Today, United Way recognizes Harwood Center as a partner agency, an honor of excellence bestowed on only a few agencies throughout the state.
  • From 1974 to 1994, Harwood Center assisted the Memphis City Schools special education department.
  • In 1992, Harwood Center spread its outreach to a second location at the Memphis Jewish Community Center, 6560 Poplar Avenue,to serve more children and families.
  • In 1999, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) designated Harwood Center as an early intervention resource agency.
  • In 2003, TDOE selected Harwood Center to help develop a statewide training program on autism for early intervention providers.
  • In 2009, Harwood Center partnered with Les Passees, Inc. to fund Harwood’s third location at Hope Presbyterian Preschool, 8500 Walnut Grove
  • In 2010, Harwood became a private nonprofit & expanded its services by opening preschool classrooms for children age 3 to 5 with developmental disabilities
  • In 2011, Harwood entered into a partnership with Baptist Memorial Health Care
  • In 2013, Harwood implemented a center based behavioral services program for children needing intensive one on one therapeutic services
  • In 2015, Harwood expanded its program to serve children exiting preschool needing a transitional year of school to prepare for kindergarten