A Solid Education Starts Early

The West Haven Child Development Center has been recognized by the Let's Move initiative as a center of excellence in 2012 and 2014.

For 36 years, little ones in the West Haven community have benefited from the comprehensive, caring education offered at the West Haven Child Development Center (WHCDC). As the area's only accredited early education program offering care on a sliding scale, the popular program has a long waiting list.

"The need for quality early education is great, and we know it is an important component in school readiness, but there is very limited funding available to support implementation," reports Executive Director, Dr. Patrice Farquharson.

Professional staff at the WHCDC explore new activities that take a comprehensive approach to learning.

Recognizing this need, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has been supporting the work of the WHCDC since 1993, including a 2005 grant from The Foundation's Community Fund for Women & Girls to create a playground area for infants and toddlers.

According to Farquharson, the funding has been vital in "continuing to support families in a warm, secure and educationally stimulating environment, while also attracting additional support."

Foundation funds and gifts from individuals help the Center care for 173 infants and toddlers annually. More than 50% of these children come from families with income levels below the state median. In addition, many are raised in single-parent homes.

At the Center, children benefit from the expertise of highly trained staff members including a nurse, social worker, and four teachers who have earned the Early Childhood Teaching Credential. Children not only gain education in core areas such as literacy, language and social interaction, but also receive health services including dental and weight screenings, along with training in healthy living, nutrition and even gardening.

In 2012, this led to recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative as a center of excellence in 2012 and 2014. The WHCDC is the only organization in the northeast to receive this award for their work in addressing childhood obesity. The Center was also recently featured as a success story on the Let's Move Childcare site for their innovative solutions to encouraging physical activity in children and their families.

With exceptional care like that, it is easy to understand why the Center's services are in such high demand. A recent multi-year grant from The Foundation's Peter & Judith Schurman and Joseph & Susan Bishop preference funds is helping to meet the demand, but more support is always needed.

To learn more about the West Haven Child Development Center or to donate to their programs, visit their profile on giveGreater.org®.

Did You Know?

If at-risk children do not receive quality early childhood education they are 25% more likely to drop out of school, and 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

Source: OunceofPrevention.org