The Bridge Unit

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Who We Are

Exceptional Care for Children is Delaware’s only pediatric nonprofit skilled nursing facility which opened in 2006, and since then has been home for up to 43 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. 

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 even be sent to an out-of-state facility.

Current Status

Among the 72 children discharged since 2006, eight children were transferred to partner providers after they reached the age of 21, as they no longer qualified for the pediatric health skilled nursing facility model. 38% of these eight discharges were unsuccessful. Of the 43 children who are currently served by ECC, eight are 13 and older. They will begin to age out by the end of the year and will be completely discharged by 2028. Currently, the alternative for children with advanced medical needs would be to remain in a hospital setting, transition to a geriatric nursing home, or be sent to an out-of-state facility.

Proposed Solution

Exceptional Care for Children is planning to build a “Bridge Unit,” to serve this population, which will be a national model and the first of its kind in Delaware. The Bridge Unit will include life-sustaining technology, specialty clinics, and interactive living environments, rooms for music, art, family time, and outdoor exploration – it will give youth the support they need to not only survive and thrive in an appropriate setting designed to serve the needs of their age group. 

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 construction of an additional 22 bed building on ECC’s current campus.


Once total funding is secured, the project is considered shovel ready. ECC has already receive all appropriate building permits and approvals including from New Castle County and the Health Resources Board. The total estimated cost for the project is approximately $16.2 million. ECC is in the process of a private capital campaign and currently has $6.5 million cash on hand for the project with additional plans to secure private funding through fundraising and grants.

Superheroes Unite!

Exceptional Care for Children urgently needs your help to build the first home of its kind in the state. This will be a national model. A home with life-sustaining technology, specialty clinics, and interactive living environments, rooms for music, art, family time, and outdoor exploration–it will give our youth the support they need to survive and thrive.

You can help create a future filled with hope and possibilities for our community by making a donation. To help us achieve a vision of building our Bridge Unit, please consider making a donation. If you are interested in naming opportunities, please write Kyle Conner, Director of Development at

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