About the Foundation
Sound Start Foundation was founded in 1996. It was born out of the need for high-quality early intervention services for babies and toddlers with hearing loss in New Jersey. Sound Start Foundation’s mission is to support educational and therapeutic programs to help babies and toddlers with hearing loss, and their families, lead full and successful lives.
If babies with hearing loss don’t receive intensive and personalized therapy during the most critical years of brain development — newborn to age 3 — irreversible delays in speech and learning can occur. According to the CDC, about 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
Sound Start Foundation supports the Sound Start Babies Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, which provides life-changing early intervention, family-support and nursery programs to children with hearing loss throughout New Jersey. The Sound Start Babies Program has helped thousands of babies with hearing loss learn to listen, speak, communicate and achieve their full potential.
The Sound Start Babies Program relies on support from Sound Start Foundation so babies who are deaf or hard of hearing can receive the help they need immediately, regardless of their financial status or funding from the State. Each year, the Foundation provides up to 60% of the funding needed to run The Sound Start Babies Program.
After years of successful fundraising, Sound Start Foundation successfully created a reserve fund which ensured that, in an economic downturn, every baby enrolled in the Program would be able to continue receiving critical early intervention therapies until they reached their third birthday and aged out of the early intervention system.
How your donation helps
Your donation helps pay for expert staff, specialized therapies, supplies and family education that will help the deaf and hard of hearing children enrolled in the Sound Start Babies Program learn to communicate on par with their hearing peers.
The Foundation’s Impact
Lake Drive Foundation for the Deaf was founded to support the Lake Drive School for Children Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Mountain Lakes, NJ.
Predominantly, the Foundation was supporting the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This program was originally funded through the NJ Department of Education and part of the Mountain Lakes School District. After five years, the early intervention services were moved to the NJ Department of Health (DOH). Under the DOH, the funding was switched to a fee for service and cost sharing model for families. It was evident that under this model and level of reimbursement, the program would not be able to continue to provide the high-quality early intervention services for the children with hearing loss. The DOH model only allowed services in the home and no school-based services.
To help raise funds to support and sustain the program, the foundation was started. The original board of trustees was comprised of volunteers who were civic leaders and passionate parents from the Mountain Lakes area. The initial fundraising revenue came from small dinners in board member homes and local community events.
The inaugural fundraising gala was held.
After years of successful fundraising, a million-dollar reserve fund was created which ensured that, in an economic downturn, every baby currently in the program would be able to complete the entire three years of early intervention therapy.
The Early Intervention Program expanded to include a nursery program that combined typically developing toddlers (ages 1 ½ to 3) with same age toddlers with hearing loss.
A third nursery classroom was opened further expanding the program reach. A large foundation grant was secured to launch a pilot program for tele-intervention services, bringing Sound Start Babies Program on the forefront of telehealth services.
The Lake Drive Foundation changed its name to Sound Start Babies Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. This was done in part to raise awareness for how critical it is to get therapy for a child with hearing loss as soon as six months after birth.
The Sound Start Babies Program separated from the Mountain Lakes School District and became a separate legal entity. The Sound Start Babies Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children was renamed to Sound Start Foundation.