History and Mission

•   We believe that each child has the right to be educated to the fullest extent.

•   We believe that each child, regardless of the degree or type of disability, is a person with individual needs and developmental potential.

•   We believe that the activities in our care should be success-oriented so that each child will have a positive self -image.

•   We believe that the process of education involves the establishment and maintenance of valid ties between the child’s home and our therapy services.

•   We believe that we must dedicate ourselves to fostering enthusiasm for learning in our children, their parents, the professional staff and our community.

•   We believe that you, as parent(s), are your child’s first and most important teacher(s).


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
  • In Fall 2020, we are continuing to expand our services with our growing partnership with the University of Memphis (UofM). We have moved from our Hope location and now have a classroom at the UofM campus. This month, we are also opening an additional space on the UofM campus to provide ABA services.
  • In January 2021, we opened our additional space “The Little Clinic” at the U of M campus. This new space allows us to provide a hybrid program for our clients to receive both in-home and clinic-based services. We are so happy to be able to help more families in our area.

Cultural Competence Policy

Our Mission Statement: It is the intent of Harwood Center that its employees behave in a manner representative of its ethical and/or moral commitment to provide quality treatment services to its recipients. It is the policy of Harwood Center to maintain a written Cultural Competency and Diversity Plan that describes how the linguistic and cultural needs of our recipients are met. It is our policy to effectively provide services to recipients of all cultures, age, races, gender, sexual orientation, socio economic status, languages, ethnic backgrounds, spiritual beliefs and religions in a manner that recognizes, values, affirms, and respects the worth of the individuals and protects and preserves the dignity of each person. Harwood Center adheres to the equal employment opportunity policy and non-discrimination practices.