In 1979, Emily Vargas-Baron founded CEDEN (Center for Development, Education and Nutrition) Family Resource Center to provide comprehensive services to families in East Austin in need of prenatal, early childhood and parenting education. The agency provided services to improve birth outcomes, prevent and reverse developmental delays, increase positive parenting behaviors, reduce injuries, and ensure timely immunizations. CEDEN primarily served low socioeconomic status families of children age zero to five years who were, or were at risk of becoming, developmentally delayed. What are now the Tandem Collaboration, Healthy and Fair Start, Early Childhood Intervention, Parenting Education and Family Literacy Programs originated with CEDEN.
In 1992, Any Baby Can of Austin began serving the community after a Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) needs assessment determined that a significant population of children with special needs resided in the area. DSHS provided funding to replicate the efforts of the highly successful Any Baby Can of San Antonio, founded in 1982 by Marian Sokol. Lila Carl, PhD served as the founding Executive Director for the Austin branch. Programming was designed to "save the child without losing the family" by improving access to services and health care, and providing support and advocacy for families of children with special needs. Today, Any Baby Can organizations in Austin, San Antonio and Kerrville are loose affiliates that share best practices to serve children with special health care needs.
In 2000, CEDEN Family Resource Center and Any Baby Can of Austin merged and now operates as the Any Baby Can Child and Family Resource Center. The merger capitalized on the strengths of both organizations to provide a continuum of services to children and families in need. Soon after the merger, the agency’s new Board of Directors authorized the purchase of the East 7th Street building that the agency still uses today. The building consolidated office space and fostered integration of various client services. It also put Any Baby Can within easy access of the families it serves. From 2005 to 2012, Any Baby Can was led by Executive Director, Ellen Balthazar.
In November, 2003, the Any Baby Can family welcomed a new member, the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of the Austin Area (now the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Program.) Founded in 1988 as a grassroots, parent-driven nonprofit, Candlelighters assisted children and families battling childhood cancer. As the number of families seeking services grew, the organization evolved into a combined effort between professional social workers and parent/mentor programs to help families cope with the challenges of having a child with cancer.
In 2007, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission was directed by the Texas Legislature to establish a Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) competitive grant process to fund NFP programs in up to 15 communities across the state. Any Baby Can worked closely with key community leaders including hospitals, United Way Success by 6, Children’s Optimal Health Collaboration, Travis County, the City of Austin and others to verify the need and feasibility of implementing this rigorous, evidence-based model in Central Texas. In 2008, this planning and competitive grant process resulted in Any Baby Can being selected as the implementing agency in the Austin area for the Nurse-Family Partnership Program.
In 2008, Any Baby Can also welcomed Children’s Hearing Aid Texas (CHAT) which provides auditory services and hearing aids for children in Central Texas with audiological needs who have no financial alternatives to meet those needs. CHAT was founded on the belief that hearing aids are essential for the development of cognitive and social skills in infants and children with hearing loss. CHAT was founded in 2003 by Caroline Caven, MA, MBA and incubated by the Austin Community Foundation under their 501 (c) (3) status until Any Baby Can “adopted” CHAT.
On February 15, 2013, Margi Preston assumed the role of Executive Director. Margi brings 27 years experience in the child and family nonprofit sector, including 14 years of executive experience, to the role.
“We are delighted to welcome Margi Preston as Executive Director,” said Any Baby Can Board President, Scott Incerto. “Margi’s passion for helping children and their families, coupled with her energy, experience, and vision make her an ideal fit for this role. She is a great asset to Any Baby Can and the Austin community at large.”
“My life’s work has been dedicated to serving children and families, and it is an honor to continue that work as Executive Director for Any Baby Can,” said Margi. “Any Baby Can has a strong foundation and is well poised to seize new opportunities. This is an exciting time, and it is my privilege to lead the agency moving forward.”
Preston received a Bachelor’s of Social Work from Sam Houston University and previously served as the Executive Director of the Family Crisis Center of East Texas. Prior to the appointment of Executive Director, Preston held the title of Senior Program Officer at Any Baby Can.
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1 in 7
babies in Texas is born preterm
1 in 4
people living in poverty is a Hispanic child
6 in 10
low-income children are not kindergarten ready