The Center for Special Education (Centre d’Education Spéciale, or CES), is a non-profit Haitian Non-Governmental Institution, it has been assisting children living with intellectual disabilities, their families, and the communities for the last 40 years.

CES was founded in January 1976 by the Haitian Association for the Rehabilitation of Handicapped People (Association Haitienne pour la rehabilitation des Personnes Handicapées), became autonomous in 1986, and was recognized by the Haitian Government as a Public Utility (is an administrative procedure in French law that allows for a development project, such as creating a communication infrastructure, school or subdivision For example, on private land by expropriating , precisely because of public interest and is obtained after a public inquiry.) in 1995. To this day, CES is the only national institution to address the problem of intellectual disability, and to base its strategy on the needs of the majority of Haitian children, who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

In practice, CES works for the prevention and early detection of intellectual disability and the early stimulation and rehabilitation of intellectually-disabled children with the long-term goal of integrating them into their environments, families, and communities. CES participates in efforts in multiple sectors that affect the development and well-being of the child. In order to accomplish its mission, CES is present in all ten departments of Haiti. In addition to its main office in Port-au-Prince and three regional offices in the Artibonite, South, and North regions of the country, CES has also developed a vast network of partners in the educational sector and development organizations together with various communities throughout the country, including the Grande Anse, Nippes, Northwest, Northeast, and Central Plateau regions of Haiti.


To ensure the integration of people living with special needs, specifically those living with intellectual disability.


The costs of Rehabilitation and Special Education are prohibitively high for those Haitians who need them. In the absence of educational programs, these socioeconomic problems trap disabled people in a vicious cycle: the majority of physically challenged, mentally challenged, blind, and deaf people are condemned to an unproductive life that only augments the poverty of their families – poverty which, itself, is one of the greatest causes of disability in developing countries. The poor lack access to primary medical care, sanitation, adequate nutrition and education, which in turn renders them susceptible to infectious diseases that cause disability. Women and children remain the most vulnerable.

The overall purpose is to contribute to the social integration of persons with special needs, particularly the mentally challenged children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Specific aims of CES:
1. Provide annual specialized psychological, medical, and social evaluations for approximately one-thousand developmentally-delayed children.
2. Provide suitable learning conditions for approximately 250 mentally challenged primary school children per year
3. Contribute to the healthy and normal development of 15,000 non-disabled children (0-6 years) per year through our prevention and educational programs
4. Provide vocational training to 80 young adults with intellectual disabilities per year, in preparation for their integration into the workplace.
5. Provide annual direct and indirect supervision of approximately 17,000 parents in the education of their children.

Target Population

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds who exhibit developmental delays, throughout the ten departments of Haiti, are the direct beneficiaries of these programs; their parents are the indirect beneficiaries.



CES’s headquarters are in Port-au-Prince. Regional offices are located in the Artibonite, North, and South departments of the country.


The center carries out its activities through the following programs:
• Screening Clinic for developmental abnormalities, providing guidance and support. Training in special education provided by a multidisciplinary team.
• Schools for mentally challenged children ages 6 to 18. Support group and
individual programs. Integration and Inclusion of children with special needs in the regular school system. Partnership with other schools, mentoring and training of teachers of these schools.
• Workshops for adults with intellectual disabilities: a training model leading to the social integration through work.
• Timoun byen vini for the harmonious development of children age 0 to 6 years who live in disadvantaged areas of the country and allowing early detection of developmental delays. Training in early childhood education.
• Responsible Parents program, enabling them to take better care of children with special needs in their various communities. Parent training and advocacy.


The ESC has always been committed to offering quality service. However, due to the Haitian context, it is fraught with serious difficulties:
• Serious economic problems
• Lack of training facilities
• Low academic level of the population
• Limited number of professionals in this area

To cope with these difficulties, the ESC has chosen to conduct informal training programs in order to disseminate knowledge among the greatest number of people, always keeping scientific rigor in mind. CES’s team of professionals provides education and training not only to the staff of the institution, but also to those who work with disadvantaged children throughout the country, both in the public sector and in the private sector.

1. The decision to offer training to individuals who are recognized within their community and connected to well-established grassroots organizations or institutions
2. The use of Creole, a language spoken by the entire population of Haiti, and promoting
materials in Creole. Work tools (tests, teaching guides etc.) are designed or adapted and translated into Creole. CES’s team of professionals strives develop training curricula in Creole.
3. The involvement of various national sectors to support programs

Organizational Structure

CES is run by a Board of Directors, which appoints the General Director, the Administrative Manager, and the Financial Manager. Daily management is conducted by a Governing Council consisting of the Director General and program managers. The headquarters in Port-au-Prince is responsible for administering all services throughout the country's 10 departments. The clinic’s specialty services require specialized equipment and require recipients to move to Port-au-Prince for treatment. Specialists are sometimes brought in for meetings in the regional offices. CES strives to have the means to decentralize its programs by providing quality, professional services in its regional offices. For all other programs, three regional offices in the Artibonite, North and South departments have been created over the years. Each office has its own structure, personnel and activities. The central office still guides and supervises these entities.

Principal International and National Partners

Within Haiti, CES has developed a network of collaborators at the community level, as well at the level of educational institutions and health organizations. This enables us to encourage greater support for early childhood development in disadvantaged settings, and the development of special needs children in particular.

Paid services (such as consultancy for other organizations) and fees paid by beneficiaries comprise 15% of CES’s overall budget. The other 85% is provided by partners such as Pain Pour Le Monde (PPM), which supported CES’s work for more than 20 years. Other international agencies have provided regular contributions to various CES programs. The Christian Blind Mission (CBM) (Germany) participated since the inception of the CES. The FMC / FKP (Canada) supported the Responsible Parents Program for a period of 3 years (June 2004-June2007). The Christian Trade Unions (Belgium) financed the organization of training and the purchase of equipment.

At the local level, support is provided sporadically by the Haitian Ministry Social Affairs and Labour (MAST); CES is currently advocating for a regular operational allowance. Throughout its operation, CES has received the support of other partners
including Manos Unidas (2002 - 2004) and FOKAL (2000-2004). CES has also received sponsorship from international agencies such as UNICEF (via the Ministère des Affaires Sociale) from 1982 to 1990.

Outlook for the Future

Over the last 36 years, CES has had many great accomplishments, but we still have a long way to go. Our accumulated experience has enabled us to develop systematic program and acquire of adequate equipment. The reassessment, review and improvement of our approaches and our projects and techniques require more specialized tools.

CES has records accumulated throughout the years that we cannot profit from because all the data have been entered by hand. As the only institution that works with Haitian children with intellectual disabilities, CES has a wealth of firsthand experience and information. However CES lost a portion of its administrative records and valuable information concerning the program’s beneficiaries in the January 10, 2010 earthquake. Paper records proved too vulnerable in the disaster. The next, highly necessary step is to computerize all our records.

In the last few years, it has become more and more difficult qualified personnel. Currently, the “brain drain” of Haitian professionals to other countries, along with CES’s low wage policy, make it increasingly difficult to attract specialists.

In Conclusion

While we continue to provide quality services and consolidate our administrative structure, CES must also undertake the following activities:

The computerization of records

Staff training, as well as training for senior instructors. At present there exists no program in Haiti to train personnel to provide education to students with intellectual disabilities, and few of those who are trained abroad return to Haiti We require the financial means to train staff to do this work autonomously and competently.

Creation of a comprehensive course in special education is of paramount importance
CES to refine its expertise and accomplish its practical goals. This curriculum with feature training in physical therapy, speech therapy, in addition to special education.

Providing paid services to other institutions. With better trained staff, CES program needs will be covered and the center will also be able to sell services to other institutions, thus ensuring the financial sustainability of CES.

Professionalization through apprentice workshops. Apprentice workshops will provide concrete professional training for intellectually-challenged individuals, allowing participants to generate income for the apprenticeship workshops as well as create small incoming-generating businesses of their own.

Resource center. We must also establish a resource center with information on intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders, epilepsy and rare disabilites. CES will become a referral center for people seeking information on intellectual disabilities and developmental abnormalities in Haiti.

These are our plans for the near future. But to succeed, we must find ways not only to keep our Center alive, but to increase our efficiency and ensure that we meet the needs of these children, who are entitled to a full life, and normal appropriate education. Currently, CES is facing serious economic difficulties. We received no funding for 2011. CES, as the only national organization in Haiti specializing in intellectual disability, must continue to offer its services, but CES cannot do it alone. International institutions have aided us greatly and we hope for their continued support, but the time has come to work hand-in-hand with Haitians living in Haiti and those living abroad, in the diaspora. We appeal to all businesses in Haiti, those run by Haitians as well as those run by foreigners.

Our children need our services.

Help us give them a better future.

Advisory Board

Jean-Joseph Exumé, President
Jean Casimir, Vice-President
Michel Chancy, Adviser
Josseline Colimon Féthière, Adviser
Marie-Josée Garnier, Adviser
Evelyne Margron, Adviser
Serge Rosenthal, Adviser
Yolaine Rosenthal, Adviser

Board of Directors

General Director
Social Worker
Trained in Special Education

Clinic Director
Speech Therapist
Trained in Special Education

School Director
Social Worker

Director of Timoun Byen Vini Program
Nurse trained in Preschool Education
Trained in Preschool Education

Director of Parent Education program and CBR Program

Administrative Director

Multidisciplinary Clinical Team

Dr Alix Elie, Neurosurgeon
Dr Questly Bonne-Année, Pediatrician
Dr Caroline Coicou, Psychiatrist
One psychologist
One physiotherapist
Two social workers