Newark, Del. — Exceptional Care for Children is thrilled to announce the recent award of a $2,000,000 grant from the Longwood Foundation, which will bring the facility one step closer to creating a “Bridge Unit” to serve an aging-out population of medically fragile children.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Longwood trustees for realizing the importance of Exceptional Care for Children and choosing to support it at such a high level,” said Kyle Conner, the facilities Director of Development. “Their rigorous application process challenged us to think critically about the potential impact of our efforts and how best to maximize that impact for the benefit of our community. We and our fellow nonprofits are fortunate to have a foundation like Longwood investing so significantly in the quality of life and future of Delaware.”

A transformation of the nearly 20-acre campus has been years in the making. Longwood’s additional funding will jump-start The Bridge Unit, which will be a national model and the first of its kind in Delaware. Life-sustaining technology, specialty clinics, interactive living environments, music and art rooms, family time, and outdoor exploration will be included in the Bridge Unit, providing medically fragile youth with the support they need to survive and thrive in an environment tailored to their age group.

The project is considered shovel ready once all funding has been secured. ECC has already obtained all necessary building permits and approvals, including those from New Castle County and the Health Resources Board. It is estimated that the project will cost approximately $16.5 million. The project is a joint effort between the facility and the State of Delaware, with the State committing $5 million in bond funding. In addition, Crystal Trust, Highmark Delaware, the Louis Capano Foundation, and the Timken Foundation of Canton have contributed significantly. A private capital campaign is currently underway at ECC.

Exceptional Care for Children is Delaware’s first and only nonprofit pediatric skilled nursing facility which opened in 2006, and since then has been home for up to 46 medically fragile children. Care is for children between birth to age 21 who no longer qualify for care in an acute care hospital setting and have a severe chronic medical condition. This could mean dependence on medical technology for survival, such as feeding tube or respiratory support that cannot be supported in the home.

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Since 2006, ECC has cared for over 132 children from infancy to young adulthood. Today’s modern medicine allows more children to thrive beyond their childhood and teen years than ever before. In Delaware alone, the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance (DMMA) reports an estimated 4,322 medically complex children are currently enrolled in Medicaid. From that number, 550 of them are between 19 and 20 years old.

In spite of medical innovation that allows children to live longer lives, pediatric placement ends at age 21. Limited space to serve this population is a growing challenge. Uninterrupted, specialized care for these young adults is essential. Most children who age out of ECC transfer to a geriatric nursing home, which are not designed to provide the psychological and medical care that young adults need and deserve. A child aging out of ECC today is at risk of being sent to a medical care home that is unable to provide skilled care or may event be sent to an out-of-state facility. The Bridge Unit will formalize a transitional care program for teens and young adults, including the transfer of care over from a pediatric to adult medical physician team. This expansion will include the construction of an additional 22 bed building on ECC’s campus.

Fundraising for the project continues through The Bridge Unit capital campaign. Those interested in supporting the project are encouraged to contact the facility.

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Implementation of the first phase of The Bridge Unit is expected to begin in Spring 2024. This will include expanded parking facilities to increase capacity while safely accommodating increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic and designated bus parking for resident transportation.

Exceptional Care for Children was founded in 1998 by Jeannine S. Winsness, RN, MSN, CRNP, and is a pediatric skilled nursing facility in Newark, Del. Children who are medically fragile and dependent on technology between the ages of birth and 21 are provided transitional, long term and palliative care. ECC is the first and only facility of its kind in Delaware and one of very few in this country. As a top-100 ranked nursing home in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, this organization takes pride in caring for its very inspiring residents and providing them with as normal a childhood as possible despite their medical challenges.

For more information or to schedule an interview with facility staff, contact Director of Development Kyle Conner at 302-894-1001 or