Address: 1545 E Pythian Springfield, MO 65802 View Map
Phone: (417) 831-1545

About Us

A mom who wanted her child to belong in the community. A dad who dreamed of his child being in a classroom learning - the same way his other children had a place to go and learn. That's how Developmental Center of the Ozarks began fifty-five years ago. A group of parents believed their children deserved to have a better quality of life and they did something about it. What began as a parent's dream, now serves more than 1,100 individuals with developmental disabilities and delays each year in Southwest Missouri.

Through the services that DCO provides, lives are being changed. Babies are able to start early intervention therapy as early as birth. Therapy can be provided in the most natural setting for the individual - home, day care, etc. Parents can send their children to a day care that is fully inclusive - some have special needs, others do not. Adults with disabilities can spend time with other adults doing activities such as dancing and drawing, take classes on subjects such as photography or science, or they can even pursue employment and receive the necessary training.

Because of Developmental Center of the Ozarks, in our community, everyone belongs.

What We Do

Through the services that DCO provides, lives are being changed. Babies are able to start early intervention therapy as early as birth. Therapy can be provided in the most natural setting for the individual—home, day care, etc. Parents can send their children to a day care that is fully inclusive—some have special needs, others do not. Adults with disabilities can spend time with other adults doing activities such as dancing and drawing, taking classes on subjects such as photography or science; or they can even pursue employment and receive the necessary training.

Technology & Learning Center
Over 16 years of age (no longer in school and meets the criteria for developmental disabilities) - DCO's Technology & Learning Center (TLC) is nationally accredited by CARF and provides a variety of learning opportunities both in the center and in the community. Six Instructors develop daily lesson plans, set up assigned labs, and obtain necessary materials/equipment identified through the course outline.

Instructors research and develop daily lesson plans based on individuals Personal Plans, interests and outcomes. Program areas include domestic activities, communication, socialization and functional academics with emphasis on accessing and using recreational activities/facilities, health/medical resources, and public agencies.  Read more....

Therapy Services
Birth up to 36 months or older children with a physician referral - DCO's Therapy Program is nationally accredited and approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. DCO has provided therapy services to individuals with developmental disabilities since 1954.

Evaluations and therapy services are provided by licensed and/or certified, Physical Therapists, Speech/Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Special Instructors.

Therapy or evaluation appointments will be scheduled based on the recommendation from your physician and/or team. An Individual Plan will be developed which will include type of therapy, frequency of the sessions, goals, objectives, strategies, and duration of the treatment program. 

Our Therapists provide First Steps intervention services to children while assisting the classroom teachers, parents, or other interested individuals to develop strategies and activities which can be integrated into the natural routines and schedules of the individual and/or family. These First Steps services are provided through home visits and include family/caregiver training and coaching.

For those who are not part of First Steps, our Therapists evaluate and develop plans based on the assessed strengths and needs of the individuals. This service is a more traditional therapy approach.  Read more....

Early Child Care & Education Program
6 weeks through 6 years of age - (with or without developmental delays or disabilities and/or medical needs)   DCO's Early Child Care and Education (ECCE) Program is a nationally accredited program, licensed by the Bureau of Child Care Licensing in 1991 to provide child care services for children with and without developmental disabilities. The program is a vendor for the Children's Division.

The Early Child Care and Education Program offers a daily classroom setting for infants and children 6 weeks through 6 years who require specialized programs and therapies as well as children who do not. The classroom instruction is based on a developmental model and offers a wide variety of activities including language stimulation, motor development, self-help skill development, learning centers, and play activities. Trained staff are supervised by a professional coordinator with a degree in the field.  Read more....

Adult Day Center
Over 18 (with a disability), Over the age of 55 (without a disability) -  The Adult Day Centers is licensed by the Department of Health & Senior Services and are approved by Medicaid.

The program is designed to assist all persons age 55 and over as well as individuals 18 and over with developmental disabilities. The design of the program is to maintain and retain skills of independence while participating with a peer group in an interactive environment.

Program hours are 7:30 AM until 6:00 PM Monday through Friday. Breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack provide the nutritional balance many individuals need. Full day and a limited number of part day positions are provided for the family's convenience. A full time nurse supervises and provides medical support, treatments, and medications.

Individuals who would benefit from the Adult Day Center may require structured activities, while in a safe, supervised environment. With emphasis on leisure and personal needs, this is an ideal program for those who want to "slow down" or may need special assistance.  Read more....

Employment Services
Over 16 years of age (requires a referral from the Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Mental Health) DCO Employment Services is a nationally accredited program that has been helping people find and maintain successful employment since 1988 in the Springfield area. Our program is successful because DCO:

  • Finds jobs that match participants' interests and abilities with employers' needs
  • Provides high quality, on the job training for as long as needed
  • Offers long-term monitoring and is available for assistance at any time to either the employee or the employer.

  Read more....

Community Based Learning Program
The DCO Community Based Learning Program provides opportunities to participate in a variety of meaningful daily activities in inclusive community settings.

Community Integration - Community based activities allow individuals the opportunity to practice skills and make positive choices. The activities can include:

  • Accessing Community Resources
  • Social Activities
  • Sports and Recreation Classes
  • Continued Education Classes
  • Functional Skill Development

Read more....

Developmental Center of the Ozarks FAQ

What Is A Developmental Disability?
Developmental Disability is a broad term that may include cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, epilepsy, and a host of other lesser known or unnamed physically and/or mentally disabling conditions. Developmental Disabilities originate before the age of 22 and may be expected to continue indefinitely.

What Is A Developmental Delay?
A Developmental Delay simply means that an individual usually an infant or child, is not progressing through the stages of development at a satisfactory rate. They are, for whatever reason, "behind" others their age in development. Not all children with delays will have difficulty later in life. Early diagnosis and therapy is essential.

The Developmental Center of the Ozarks accepts referrals from any doctor, relative, friend or agency involved with an infant, child or adult thought to be in need of DCO's services.

At What Age Do Most Children Attain Certain Skills?
Please refer to our Developmental Checklist.

Our mission
DCO makes a positive difference in the community by providing services that enable individuals to reach and maintain their optimal level of development.

What that means to you is we are committed to helping each person we are privileged to serve to do and be his or her best.

Our purpose
DCO serves infants, children, and adults, who have developmental or physical disabilities, or developmental delays – as well as those who do not – through therapies, education, and habilitative programs. DCO promotes personal growth through teaching skills that help all citizens of our community to lead full and productive lives.

DCO also provides:

  • Advocacy that promote full inclusion for everyone
  • Awareness and information through public speaking, campus tours, printed literature, and various fundraising activities
  • Continued education for families, employers, and community related to developmental disabilities through training classes and presentations.

How You Can Help

Donating money is great but supplies are always welcome and much needed. Art and craft supplies such as fabric, paper, ribbon, crayons, markers and paints along with many other things can always be used by our adults with disabilities who love to create.

Time equals money when you volunteer at DCO.

A varietyof opportunities exist to volunteer in our Early Child Care and Education building! You may be rocking babies to sleep, playing with and/or reading to children, attending day-time field trips as a chaperone, or being an extra set of hands and eyes for on and off campus activities. 

The children also love when volunteers come in to share about their occupation - i.e. firefighters, athletes, etc.

DCO participates in the Foster Grandparent Program - our children love their classroom grandparents!

For college and high school students, service learning and practicums with DCO are a great way to get real world experience.

Register with the Family Care Safety Registry at and you will be ready to volunteer here at DCO! Background check required- this takes 30 days to be approved. Cost is $11.

Please call (417) 829-0801 for more information.

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