More than a dozen Promise Ambassadors and resident leaders gathered at William Patrick Day Early Learning Center to hear from child care experts about the basics of early learning programs. Attendees at the February Promise Neighborhood resident meeting had the opportunity to speak with Nicole Hawthorne, director of William Patrick Day, Tatiana Wells, Promise Neighborhood early learning navigator, as well as various staff and teachers from early learning centers in Central.
“Each of our ambassador and resident meetings this year will focus on a specific area of the Promise pipeline,” said Joe Black, engagement manager, Promise Neighborhood. “By giving our resident partners an in-depth look at each area of our work we hope to not only provide them with useful information, but that it will give them a better understanding of the work Promise does and how they can get involved.”
Discussion focused on Ohio’s Step Up To Quality child care rankings, the availability of high-quality child care in Central, breaking down jargon often used in the industry, and how early learning specifically benefits children from low-income families.
Wells also debunked some myths about early learning, such as the belief that early learning is glorified babysitting. According to Wells, this may be the case in some situations, but a quality-rated child care center is focused on teaching the fundamentals of learning and preparing children for kindergarten.
“Too many children in Cleveland start kindergarten with their academic skills far behind where they should be,” Wells said. “A good, quality early learning program will help a child with their ABC’s and prepare them for the daily routine and expectations of a classroom, which is equally important.”
Meeting attendees also participated in small group discussions about what barriers may be keeping Central parents from enrolling children in early learning programs. Some of the barriers the group discussed include:
- Lack of understanding about what quality early learning centers offer
- Personal preference to keep child at home or with a family member
- Transportation issues
- Concerned about safety of child; lack of trust of child care centers
The early learning professionals in attendance also spoke with residents and Ambassadors about how parents and early learning staff can work together to build strong and more open relationships. Hawthorne shared that often parents don’t realize centers have resources available for the whole family or can connect families with support systems outside of the center.
“We know it isn’t easy to share personal or family struggles with anyone, especially not a childcare provider, but often there are ways we can help families that need assistance with paying bills, clothing, food or the array of other challenges facing our communities,” Hawthorne said. “And if there are struggles at home, it’s likely affecting the child’s time with us, so being aware of what’s happening outside of the classroom can help us better meet their needs.”
Central is home to 13 quality-rated early learning centers. A complete list of centers is available here. If you would like to learn more about how to enroll your child in a program, call Tatiana Wells, Promise early learning navigator, at 216.575.0061.
Join us for our next Ambassador and resident meeting on Friday, April 7 at 12 – 1:30 p.m. at Marion-Sterling Elementary School library where discussion will focus on the K-8 learning environment.