Early Learning Child Care began as part of a local CAP agency, OnBoard, in 1969 and was known as OnBoard Day Care. After being in several locations throughout the city, we finally found a home at Fort Rodman in the southend of New Bedford. In 1982, OnBoard was dissolved and a non profit corporation called Metacomet took its place. In 1984 as Metacomet was being dissolved, we were able to form our own non profit corporation under the name Early Learning Child Care. During all this time, we remained located at Fort Rodman. In 1992, the City of New Bedford was involved with a consent decree that required them to build a new sewage treatment plant. The location chosen for this was Fort Rodman and therefore we had to move. As part of the consent decree the city was required to relocate programs that had been located there. The city renovated space in the former vocational high school for our program and in June of 1992 we moved into our present location.
The philosophy of Early Learning is to provide a loving and accepting atmosphere for the children that is conducive to learning and development of a positive self concept.. It is our goal to provide a high quality early childhood program.
We believe that the role of teachers in the young child’s education is to enhance all areas of development – social, emotional, physical and intellectual. We use the Creative Curriculum models both in our infant-toddler program and in our preschool program. For infants and toddlers the Creative Curriculum model looks at matching goals for children to strategies, which will meet each child’s needs. The curriculum addresses the content – what emerges from goals and objectives, the process – what you do to help children learn and the context – the setting in which learning takes place. For the preschool, the Creative Curriculum framework looks at the following: how children learn (philosophy), what children learn (goals and objectives), the teacher’s role, the parent’s role and the environment. The Creative Curriculum provides guidance and support to teachers while allowing them to use their own creativity and to be responsive to individual children.
On September 30, 2004, we received our NAEYC Accreditation. This was a culmination of several years work in bringing our program up the NAEYC standards. This accreditation is good for five years.
Staff work in a variety of ways to insure that there is a safe environment for the children. There is the formal arrival and dismissal process that lets staff know when children are in the center and when they have left. Prior to entrance in the center all children must have a physical and be up to date on all immunizations. The Health and Nutrition Coordinator assists in this process. This staff person will assist any parent of a child who needs referrals in obtaining appropriate services. If it is a mental health service that is needed, the case worker will assist the parent.
Staff at Early Learning understand that all education for young children comes within the context of nurturing relationships. Every child is viewed as an individual. Teachers develop close working relationships in which they enhance the child’s self esteem as well as their social-emotional development. Primary caregiving has been established in the infant/toddler program. This assists in developing strong attachments between teachers and children. It also provides an opportunity for teachers to share developmental information with parents encouraging them to focus on their child’s development. The newly developing assessment process will assist teachers in focusing more closely on each child’s development. Staff utilizes positive guidance techniques. Children are taught to care about one another and to use conflict resolution skills in resolving conflicts. Addressing feelings and dealing with difficult situations is seen as an important aspect of curriculum.
Children’s self esteem is also enhanced by the fact that we have a mixture of staff reflective of the ethnic cultural background of our families. Classroom curriculum material, as well as the Resource Center materials, are reflective of various cultural backgrounds. Teachers utilize pictures from the classroom as well as family pictures to assist in developing cultural sensitivity within the children.
Parents are encouraged to be involved in the program in multiple ways. This center considers the parent-staff relationship a partnership. Through the intake process, parents are offered that first opportunity to begin developing the parent-staff relationship. Parents are welcome in the center at any time. There are a number of special events that parents are invited to throughout the year. At times, there are parent meetings or workshops. Parents will meet with teachers to discuss their child’s developmental progress during the assessment process.
Since its inception, Early Learning has families who are involved with DSS because of multiple issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, neglect, lack of education and lack of parenting skills. We currently have 4 children living with their biological grandparents. We have a staff that is very cognizant of our role in supporting the parents as they work to strengthen themselves while we offer a safe and nurturing atmosphere for their children. We have had contracts with the state for many years to provide services to families who are involved with DSS and have had an excellent working relationship with the department. While we initially served only preschool children, in the past few years we have been able to secure an EEC license to serve infant, toddler and school age children. This change in licensing has allowed us to serve children of various ages from the same family making it much easier for the family. We currently have contracts with EEC to serve toddler, preschool and supportive children.
We hold contracts with the EEC for 22 Supportive Service slots – who are referred to us by DSS. We have a case manager who is responsible for working with these families, then social workers, therapists and teaching staff to maximize the benefits that each child & family can receive from attending our program.
In addition, we have a contract with EEC for 13 Income Eligible slots for preschool age children.
We have contracts with PACE for infant, toddler, preschool and school age Voucher children. We also have a contract with PACE to serve CPC families, both working and “At Risk” families.
We accept private paying families in all age groups.
Our program contracts with the USDA Food Program. We offer breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack to every child. Our meals are served family style with the children being able to serve themselves. We have well balanced nutritious meals that meet all USDA standards. The six-week cycle menus are prepared by our Health & Nutrition Coordinator in consultation with our caterer, who provides our lunches. Our staff prepares breakfast and afternoon snack. We accommodate any special food requirements, whether they be health or religious based, made by the parents.
We, and West End Day Nursery, contract with Neves Bus Company for the transportation of our children to and from their homes and on field trips. They meet all the Massachusetts School Bus requirements. The children are transported on school buses that are fully equipped with seat belts. Car seats are provided for those children requiring them by size or age. We contract for three (3) runs in the morning and three (3) runs in the afternoon. Given the geographic dimensions of the city, very long and very narrow, we run a northend, southend and central route starting as early as 6:30 am and the last run leaves here at 4:15 in the afternoon.
ELCC has worked with several Social Service Agencies over the years, including: MSPCC , Child & Family, South Bay, and Center for Human Services. We currently have several EI children who also receive services from Kennedy Donovan or Schwartz Center. We have had the opportunity to serve two (2) children who have cerebral palsy. It has been a great learning experience for everyone.
Currently we have a therapist who comes from MSPCC to work with some of our children who have difficult behaviors.
Early Learning Child Care is open from 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM, 248 days per year. We will be open every day for the full day unless a state of emergency has been called by the governor or mayor.
Early Learning Child Care is single site location. We have approximately 10,000 square feet of indoor space. We have seven (7) classrooms: one (1) After School; four (4) Preschool; Two (2) Toddler; one (1) Infant. We are licensed by EEC for 109 children: seven (7) Infants; eighteen (22) toddlers; sixty (60) Preschool; 20 School Age. Each classroom is self-contained, handicapped accessible, well lit, clean, spacious, inviting and well equipped with age appropriate materials and equipment.
The adjacent fully enclosed playground has approximately 5000 square feet of space divided into two (2) separate play yards: one for infants and toddlers; the other area for the preschool and school age children. Both play yards contain age appropriate equipment so that the children can explore and develop their motor skills. In addition, we have bicycles, wagons, rickshaws, wheelbarrows and numerous sand toys for the children’s use. There is also a covered space area to give children some shaded area on the hot summer days. Additionally, the area has numerous shade trees and shrubbery to soften the area and give it a more natural look. The play area is surrounded by other buildings that make up the complex and therefore affords a private, quiet and safe space for children to play, sheltered from traffic and other urban hazards.