Inside this three-story building at the Anna Shaw Children's Institute in Dalton is help and hope for children in North Georgia with developmental delays and disabilities.

"It will open so many doors for the families and children of this area to be able to come right here to Dalton to receive the care they need," Terri Woodruff, executive director at the Anna Shaw Institute, said. 

Jessica Truelove has a daughter with special needs. She said not only was finding care a challenge but getting to her daughter's appointments could be difficult.

"A family with a child with special needs, it's hard to load them up, load all the things they need, their wheelchair, their oxygen, feeding tube, so having a facility in this community where they just have to go down the road means a lot," Truelove said.

Before the Anna Shaw Children's Institute opened, Jessica and other parents in North Georgia would have to travel to Chattanooga or Atlanta for most of their children's care.

Now, it's not only in their community, but also the services are all under one roof.

Dr. Emily Brandt, a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician at the Anna Shaw Children's Institute, said that makes a big difference.

"We have not only the physicians who are doing diagnosis, medication management, but we also have the providers who are doing speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, counseling," Brandt said.

The three-story building is 54,000 square feet. Every detail, from the floor to the lighting, was designed with the needs of children with developmental delays and disabilities in mind.

"We started with the ground floor being like the floor of the forest done with colors such as grays and brown and the wall vinyl has tree trunks then on the second floor you're moving up into the canopy of the tree," Woodruff said.

On the second floor is where you will find all of the therapy services, along with an aquatic therapy room. There's also a gymnasium with a track designed for children with wheelchairs, crutches or a trainer, along with other special features like an adaptive climbing wall and outdoor therapy area.

At this time, the center is currently designed for children from birth through age 11. Doctors say the earlier children get tested and start treatment, the better.

"There has been a great push over the last ten years to increase the rates of screening in young children to raise awareness, catching them early when there is a concern," Brandt said.

Truelove is just glad that treatment is now a lot closer and more convenient.

"So having a facility like this in our community that we no longer have to travel that far impacts us so much, because now we just have to drive 10 minutes down the road," Truelove said.

At this time, the third floor of the Anna Shaw Children's Institute is for future growth. Discussion is underway as to what services would most benefit the community.

An open house will be held at the Anna Shaw Children's Institute on Tuesday, April 16. A sensory-friendly hour will take place from 4:30 pm-5:30 pm, and the community open house will take place from 5:30-7:30 pm.