I’m thrilled to announce the official opening of our new Children’s Center this Tuesday, September 2, 2014!
Up until now, our Women and Children’s Center has been run like a co-op. That means, while one mom is getting therapy or attending educational classes, the other is babysitting children in a shared play area. Now, thanks to the new Children’s Center, moms can concentrate on their own training, while their children can get the quality education they need to help break the cycle of homelessness.
Last year, 683 children stayed in our emergency shelter. From 7pm at night until 7am the next morning, they are sheltered, fed and cared for. But for the next 12 hours, moms and very young children are on their own. If the weather is unusually bad, cold or raining, some, desperate for a place to stay, go back into abusive situations. Others spend their days in the parks. But even on a good day, it can be chilly in the winter and brutally hot in the summer sun. One mother came in with a young child who was badly sunburned. She had been sitting in the sun in Balboa Park all day to keep both of them warm!
The first five years is a time in which children learn more than they ever will in their lifetime. Delays, especially in the first few years of development, caused by trauma, instability and deprived environments, set a child up for compromised brain development to say the least. Infants who are given a safe, nurturing environment will be able to overcome delays and repair some of the damage.
This new Children’s Center is not just babysitting or daycare –it’s much more than that. We’ve hired a licensed teacher and a caring Director to oversee a curriculum designed to provide learning activities to stimulate young minds as well as develop healthy social and emotional skills.
Although the state requires a 12:1 ratio for teaching preschool aged children, we have taken into account the special needs and circumstances of these children, and provide a 6:1 ratio of students to teacher.
The new Children’s Center will accommodate 11 students (ages 2-5) with plans to add more over the next 6 months. We’ll be serving children from the Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter and those with mothers in our year-long recovery program.
This is why it means so much to officially open this much needed Children’s Center. However, we have only received 25% of the necessary funding to offset the start-up costs and keep this Children’s Center operating for the next year. We are still in need of significant funding for this important project. If you would like to discuss ways you can help donate funds, or attend our upcoming Grand Opening Celebration, please contact me.