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Pediatrics – SPARK Center


Pediatrics – SPARK Center (Supporting Parents and Resilient Kids)

Our Mission

The mission of the SPARK Center is to help Boston's highest-risk children to build brighter tomorrows. SPARK provides therapeutic, medically-specialized programs for children of all ages based on the philosophy that all children are resilient and able to take control of their futures. SPARK makes long-term investments in fragile children—helping them to believe in themselves, make healthy choices, cope with emotional problems, achieve in school and gain success as adults.


Join us for the 8th Annual Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club
“Buddy Run”
to benefit The SPARK Center

On Saturday, July 16, 2016, we are holding the “Buddy Run” motorcycle ride in loving memory of Buddy Brown, to support The SPARK Center. The ride will begin and end at SPARK, followed by an afternoon of fun-filled family activities.

For registration information and other details, please visit the
SPARK-Buddy Run Event


 View a brief, but touching video about The SPARK Center's unique services.

The SPARK Center is a model childcare program offering comprehensive, integrated, state-of-the-art services for children and families whose lives are affected by medical, emotional and/or behavioral challenges.  The program serves Boston's highest-risk children, ages infant through 5 year olds:  those living with complicated medical conditions (including neuro-developmental challenges, failure to thrive and HIV/AIDS); as well as children who are involved with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families due to significant family and social concerns (including child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, adult substance abuse).  A new group of fragile children now attend SPARK.  These are 'very low birth weight' babies who were born too early and too small, and need our specialized care and attention.

Not surprisingly, most of the children at the SPARK Center live in poverty, with parents and caregivers who struggle daily to maintain the integrity of their families.

Located in the heart of Boston's urban community and serving approximately 50-60 children annually, the SPARK Center represents a unique and powerful collaboration between Boston Medical Center and the Boston University School of Medicine, the Mass. Dept. of Early Education and Care, and several additional state and federal funders.

Each of these entities provides a unique contribution to SPARK's mission of helping children to build loving relationships, positive self-regard, and community belonging. At SPARK, children learn the skills and values to succeed in school and to develop productive and rewarding adult lives. Additionally, the SPARK Center offers parents and other caregivers the support, guidance and compassionate understanding that promote strength and stability in their parenting responsibilities.

The History of The SPARK Center

The SPARK Center, originally known as the Children's AIDS Program, was founded by the Boston Public Health Commission in 1989 in response to the pediatric AIDS crisis in Boston. It was established in its present community site in 1992, and became part of Boston Medical Center (previously Boston City Hospital) in 1995. In September 2004, through a state mandated merger with another Boston Medical Center program (Family Development Center), we expanded our mission to serve children with other medical conditions, as well as children with traumatic histories due to caregiver disruptions, loss and/or suspected abuse/neglect. As a result of this expanded mission and an increase in children served, we have adopted a more inclusive name: The SPARK Center - Supporting Parents and Resilient Kids.

The Facility

Built in 1992, our sunny, cheerful SPARK Center houses state-of-the-art infant care rooms, multiple toddler and preschool classrooms, private therapy and testing rooms, a nurse's office, a full kitchen, child-friendly spaces for specialists and administrative offices. Outside playground equipment is safe, colorful and age-appropriate, and the facility sits on a beautiful open lawn with ample play area and a lovely garden.

Our Partners

The SPARK Center represents a unique collaboration across many institutions.  Through these affiliations, our broad range of expertise provides children with comprehensive care.

  • Boston Medical Center (BMC)
  • Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM)
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • BOSTnet
  • Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC)
  • Boston Public Schools (BPS)
  • Child Care Choices of Boston (CCCB)
  • Center for Community Health, Education and Research (CCHER/REACH 2010)
  • Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology (CMTP)
  • Department of Education, Bureau of Nutrition (DOE)
  • Department of Children and Families (DCF)
  • Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)
  • John Hancock Foundation
  • Justice Resource Institute (JRI)
  • Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP)
  • Multicultural AIDS Project (MCAP)
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH)

Contact Us

Barbara Hughes
Program Coordinator / Director of Events
Call: 617.414.0502
Fax: 617.534.2057
Email: SPARK@bmc.org


Boston Medical Center
Department of Pediatrics
The SPARK Center
(Supporting Parents & Resilient Kids)
255 River Street
Mattapan, MA 02126


Refer A Patient

Call: 617.414.0505
Fax: 617.534.2057


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Quick Links

Pediatrics Home
Pediatric Infectious Disease
Child Witness to Violence
Comprehensive Care Program (CCP)

Downloads (PDF)

What Makes BMC Special
Directions to SPARK Center   
SPARK Funders
In-Kind Donations Wish List
Intern/Volunteer Handbook