The New England Center for Children Hosted a Press Conference for Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, and Secretary Sudders as They Announced a Commitment of Resources to Defray COVID-19 Costs

Southborough, Mass. – July 13, 2020 – The New England Center for Children® (NECC®), a world-class autism education and research center in Southborough, MA, hosted a press conference today for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karen Polito and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders. NECC was selected for its strong residential program that demonstrated great resolve in weathering the COVID-19 pandemic without compromising quality of care or staff/student safety.

During the press conference, the Baker administration announced a major commitment of funding to the Commonwealth’s residential special education schools to help defray the extraordinary expenses incurred to keep students safe during the pandemic. The news brought a sense of relief for many residential programs that were forced to re-direct current use funds from typical program costs to special sanitization equipment, copious amounts of disinfectant cleaning supplies, personal protective gear, medical supplies and coronavirus testing for staff and students.

NECC founder and CEO, Vinnie Strully, shared his gratitude for the financial support and added his deep appreciation for the guidance from the COVID task force throughout the crisis. “At no point did my executive team or our Board of Directors feel that we were alone in navigating this public health crisis. Secretary Sudders and state health officials provided up-to-the-minute communication and direction about the virus and what precautions should be taken to mitigate risks for our special needs students. Because of their partnership, our staff was able to focus on our area of expertise – caring for children with autism. The greatest contribution comes from our over 900 employees who are bravely willing to work throughout the Center during the pandemic.”

 In addition to implementing new protocols, such as mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, temperature checks, social-distancing, and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, the Center had other challenges to work through. Keeping direct care staff isolated in extended stay hotel rooms and transitioning lesson plans and skill-based learning to remote sessions for residential and day school students were high priorities. The Center also needed to renovate classroom space in the school to serve as a unit for COVID positive students who did not require hospitalization.

With these expenses topping $3 million for the New England Center for Children alone, this announcement from the Governor is a welcome relief. Michael S. Downey, Chief Financial Officer at NECC, shared his appreciation, “We were fortunate to be in a strong financial position when the coronavirus hit, but the expenses continue to mount. This funding is critical for many programs like ours and will enable us to continue providing the quality care we are known for.”

Although the threat is not over, The New England Center for Children is confident in their ability to follow the administration’s recommendations for a safe re-opening, and to continue bringing out the potential in every student with autism they serve. Strully added, “For 45 years we have been helping kids grow and learn and achieve skills that seemed unlikely when they were diagnosed. Thanks to the support of Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito and Secretary Sudders, we will continue for many years to come.” 

About The New England Center for Children

NECC is an award-winning autism education and research center and an equal opportunity employer. Our diverse community of teachers, researchers, and clinicians have transformed the lives of thousands of children with autism worldwide through education, research, and technology. The Center provides comprehensive services to maximize independence: home-based, day, and residential programs, partner classrooms in public school systems, consulting services, the ACE® ABA Software System (, teacher professional development, and research on educational best practices.

NECC is committed to staff professional development, partnering with local colleges to provide on-site graduate training and degrees at little to no cost to the NECC teacher. The result is a growing pool of exceptional teachers trained in best-in-class methodologies, whether they continue their careers at NECC or move on to public schools or private agencies. The New England Center for Children is based in Southborough, MA, and operates a center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Learn more at