Child Day Care Centers Suffolk County New York

Program Directors

Alternatives For Children


Send EmailDr. Marie E. Ficano
Executive Director

Marie Ficano completed both undergraduate and Masters programs at City College, majoring in Special Education. Upon completion of this coursework she taught in special education classrooms in the New York City public school system and a private school in Brooklyn for children with autism, before moving to Long Island where she was a special educator in the Half Hollow Hills School District. Knowing in her heart that her goal was to make a far reaching impact in the lives of as many children with special needs as possible, rather than one class at a time, Marie Ficano decided to pursue a Masters of Education in School Administration, as well as a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Beginning her administrative career as the Director of Special Education at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, she once again found that the number of children requiring services was greater than the limited number of children who could be served within the confines of a hospital setting. Returning to her far reaching goal, Dr. Ficano began to prepare a plan for the expansion of the services and education available to children with disabilities and special needs. Within a few short years, she along with the Board of Trustees of the Hospital in 1988 founded the St. Charles Education and Therapeutic Center in Port Jefferson. The St. Charles Education and Therapeutic Center quickly became a leader in Suffolk and Nassau counties in the delivery of Early Intervention services, Preschool Special Education programs, and in the offerings of related therapeutic services. Very soon the Center’s facility in Port Jefferson was not sufficient enough to serve the growing population of children being served from a large geographic area, and so the Center was expanded to locations in Aquebogue, Southampton, and Melville.

In 2003, the St. Charles Education and Therapeutic Center, without ever deviating from its mission was renamed and established as Alternatives For Children, a not-for-profit private school with the mission of providing the highest quality special and regular education programs and services to children with disabilities and their typically developing peers. Under the leadership of Dr. Ficano, $8.6 million in financing was secured, a site was selected, construction commenced, and in just sixteen short months a beautiful new 36,000 square foot facility situated on 4.6 acres of property in East Setauket was erected as the new home for Alternatives for Children.

Dr. Ficano has always been an active advocate and visionary voice ensuring the rights of children with special needs. At the federal level, Dr. Ficano served in various capacities, including Board President for the National Association of Private Education Centers for ten years, where she was also named Executive of the Year, and Commissioner of the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services. At the State and County level Dr. Ficano has served as a member of the New York State Governor’s Preschool Advisory Committee, President of the Long Island Coalition for Children with Special Needs, and Board Member of the Early Intervention Coordinating Council. In 2008, Dr. Ficano was recognized by the New York State Senate as a “Woman of Distinction.”

Having provided educational and therapeutic services for thousands of children from throughout Suffolk and Nassau counties, both typically developing children and those with special needs and their families, Dr. Ficano, along with the Board of Trustees and the administration and staff of Alternatives For Children, have consistently provided a dynamic early childhood environment in which children are encouraged to be creative, explore and experiment in order to meet or exceed the criteria established for their age. Historically it has been shown that children who graduate from Alternatives For Children have been given the tools they need to be ready to learn and be successful as they transition to the kindergarten environment. Through Dr. Ficano’s dedication and single-minded determination Alternatives for Children has become a leader in providing quality care to all children, but especially to those who need it most, at the most critical time in their development.



Send EmailArlene Murtha
Director Early Intervention
Melville Therapeutic Preschool and Child Day Care Programs


Arlene began her career with Alternatives for Children with the inception of the Early Intervention Program at St. Charles Hospital in 1984, and was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the St. Charles Educational and Therapeutic Center in 1988. Arlene was instrumental in the transition from the St. Charles Educational and Therapeutic Center, facilitating the successful development, growth and expansion of Alternatives For Children. Arlene administrates and oversees the Early Intervention Program for Alternatives For Children in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties. In addition, Arlene is the program coordinator for Alternatives For Children Melville, supervising the faculty and staff in the child day care center and the therapeutic preschool program.

Arlene holds graduate degrees in social work and educational administration from SUNY at Stony Brook and The College of New Rochelle. She is a member of the Quality Assurance Task Force of the Suffolk County Department of Health - Division of Services for Children with Special Needs, which develops policy and presents training programs for parents and professionals in the field. She has been a member of the adjunct faculty at St. Joseph’s College, teaching in the Master’s Program in Infant and Toddler Special Education, allowing her a unique opportunity to train future teachers to work in the complex and rewarding field of special education for children with special needs and their families.

Most importantly, in her quiet and unassuming way, Arlene has been a sympathetic listener, an ardent advocate and mediator, and a beacon of hope for thousands of children and their families. With patience and understanding, she guides the families of children with disabilities and special needs through the confusing, difficult and often heart-wrenching intricacies of Early Intervention. With dedication and determination Arlene fosters among the Early Intervention professionals at Alternatives For Children a deep understanding and awareness of the responsibility they have, and the difference they have and will make in the lives of thousands of children and their families.


Send EmailIngrid Trouvé, MS.Ed. SDA/SAS
East Setauket Preschool Special Education Coordinator

Ingrid came to Alternatives For Children East Setauket in 2007, after having spent eighteen years at Just Kids Early Childhood Learning Centers. Beginning her career at Just Kids as a Special Education Teacher, Ingrid would go on to serve in several different capacities including; Assistant Supervisor of Teachers, Evaluation Intake Coordinator/Educational Evaluator, and Assistant Principal/Education Supervisor.

Bringing with her this wealth of experience as a Special Education professional, Ingrid now oversees all the programming requirements for the Special Education Preschool at Alternatives For Children East Setauket. In her efforts to assure that children with special needs will be afforded the opportunity for an appropriate educational and therapeutic setting, Ingrid collaborates with neighboring school districts, conferences with the child’s team, and is in constant communication with families.

Ingrid, in working closely with other colleagues, has developed and implemented the Alternatives For Children Goals Management System. The Goals Management System is an innovative and effective data collection and management system that tracks all data for each child in connection with their Individual Education Plan (IEP), allowing for a more comprehensive and unified team approach.

Ingrid received her BS in Elementary Education and MS in Special Education from Long Island University, CW Post. She attended SUNY at Stony Brook for her work in the Advanced Certificate Program in School District Administration, and School Administration and Supervision.

Using the New York State Prekindergarten Learning Standards and the Creative Curriculum as the benchmark, Ingrid provides the teaching staff with concrete guidance and assistance in curriculum planning through hands-on classroom visits/observations and in-service training workshops. To maintain Alternatives For Children’s high standards, Ingrid creates a collaborative team environment where children’s individual needs are met and they are provided with the tools they need to attain the skills and concepts they need to have a successful academic experience.


Send EmailWendy Jorgensen, LCSW SDA
Aquebogue and Southampton Early Intervention,
Preschool Special Education and Day Care Coordinator


In 2010, Wendy came to Alternatives For Children after nineteen years at the Kramer Learning Center, eleven of those years as direct supervising administrator of the clinical and teaching staff.

As Alternatives For Children East End Coordinator, Wendy directly oversees and supervises all programs and services at Alternatives For Children Southampton, Alternatives For Children Aquebogue, the Alternatives For Children Southold Universal Pre-Kindergarten, and is the Child Day Care center director at Alternatives For Children Southampton.

Wendy received her BA in psychology from Dowling College; Masters in Social Work from Adelphi University; and attended Dowling College for post graduate work where she completed and received her certification in School District Administration.

As Alternatives For Children East End Coordinator, which covers an expansive geographical area, Wendy collaborates with school districts on both forks of Long Island, ensuring that children with special needs will be afforded an opportunity for an appropriate setting where their individual needs can be met. During Wendy’s tenure a broad range of program options for children with special needs and their typically developing peers have become available for the culturally and economically diverse demographic population that makes up the East End of Long Island.


Send EmailDorothy Creegan, MS.Ed. SAS
East Setauket Early Childhood Coordinator

Dorothy came to Alternatives For Children in 2005, bringing with her over thirty years of experience as a teacher, supervisor, and administrator. Her diversified experience spans the spectrum of public education, as well as corporate, private, and non-profit child development programs, including federally funded Head Start and Early Head Start.

Since coming to Alternatives For Children East Setauket as Early Childhood Coordinator, Dorothy has been instrumental in the implementation of innovative programming and developmentally appropriate best practices. In 2007, in collaboration with Ingrid Trouvé, instituted and trained all staff in the Creative Curriculum for Preschool, as the overarching philosophy and curriculum framework at Alternatives For Children. Under her direction Alternatives For Children East Setauket has been designated by the New York State Department of Health as a Child/Adult Food Care Program, and a breast-feeding friendly child care center. Dorothy has initiated, and maintains, a partnership with the Stony Brook University Medical Center’s Long Island Center for Pediatric Obesity Prevention, providing healthy nutrition information for staff and parents alike. Under Dorothy’s leadership, in 2009, Alternatives For Children East Setauket was chosen as a field test-site for the QUALITY Stars NY program.

Dorothy received her M.S. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Brooklyn College, C.U.N.Y, and attended C.W. Post for post graduate work in School Administration and Supervision, and maintains New York State permanent certification in Teaching N-6, and School Administration / Supervision. As East Setauket Early Childhood Coordinator, Dorothy is diligent in assuring that the early childhood educational experiences provided for the students, and their families, are of the highest caliber and quality.