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Research Findings

Early Childhood Education And Community Partners: A Look At William L. Clay Childhood Development And Parent Center

Introduction

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When choosing a school or daycare facility for young children, parents can be very nervous. These facilities take care of young children during their early developmental years. The children are often too young to speak-up if they are unhappy or feel unsafe at the daycare facility. These programs can also be expensive and parents want to be sure they are receiving the best care for their children. Not only do the parents have many concerns about daycare facilities, but teachers at these programs have a variety of obligations to the children and their families. Teachers are responsible for giving student the optimal environment for them to grow, learn, and develop accordingly. The teachers play a large role in supporting parents and families is giving their children the optimal home environment; teachers also have a legal obligation to take note of and report any abuse that may occur within the home.

As a result of the various factors involved in creating an ideal environment for young children to grow, early childhood center have many components to consider and integrate in their programs. William L. Clay Early Childhood Development and Parenting Center makes every effort to cater to the children they welcome in their doors. The center welcomes students from every walk of life ranging in ages from 6 weeks to 5 years old. The center applies child development theories within a play-environment in order to provide the children with hands-on learning. They also provide parent education facilities, including a resource library. As I entered the William L. Clay Early Childhood Development and Parenting Center, I experienced everything the center boosted about first hand. They utilize glass doors so that the faculty and parents can see what is going on in every part of the facility, and I was welcomed with a smile. They were eager to help me understand the center’s practices so that, someday when I am also a teacher, I can look back at this experience and know how to give my early childhood students the best education afforded to them.

Interview

Demographic

Questions

In order to have a better understanding of the William L. Clay Early Childhood Development and Parenting Center, I took a tour of the facilities and interviewed Jodi Jordan, the director of the center. Jordan and I discussed the families who use the center and the relationship between the center and the community. I asked Jordan the following questions,

  • Describe how the families in this early education setting are representative of the community in which they live.

  • Describe how understanding family characteristics support the delivery of high quality early education.

  • Provide four specific examples of the way the early education setting includes and engages families with children’s growth, development, and learning. How included in their child’s education and care.

  • Discuss the type of information families can provide teachers and the director which will be helpful in the developing continuity between home and the early education setting.

These questions give me a clear understanding of how families profit from enrolling their children in the William L. Clay Early Childhood Development and Parenting Center. The website provides information about resources and training of the staff, but it does not give an in depth analysis of the results of those resources. By understanding who the parents are, what they gain and lack from the community at large, and what the center provides, I have clear grasp of the benefits of the center.

St. Louis Community

Education and Child Care

Child Care Aware is a Missouri program that assist education and childcare facilities reach their full potential. The program wants all child care programs within the state to be fully equipt to give their children the best care and education; the program utilizes research and proven strategies to give students the best learning environment. Child Care Aware does not limit itself to giving children the best opportunity, but also helps parents. They have one-to-one advice for parents about child care facilities, parenting resources, and state and community resources. Child Care Aware’s mission is to help children and families flourish by assisting child care facilities information and strategies to help their participants.

Parents as Teachers is a Missouri organization who helps parents raise and teach their children. While the organization is willing to provide resources throughout the child’s lifetime, early developmental years are the most important to the organization. Parents as Teachers provide parents in Missouri with education and support so that those children develop optimally during critical early years. It is a preventative method; if parents are supported from the start, the state has less need to intervene when a problem arises. The program also realizes that parents know their children better than anyone else. Rather than tell parents how to be good parents, they give the parents resources to help their children according to their individual needs.

Harris-Stowe State University invest in early childhood education and research by supporting The William L. Clay Early Childhood Development and Parenting Center. The center has two parts: daycare facilities and parent education and support facilities. The daycare provides full day and half day programs. They attempt to bring in a variety of economic levels by offering a regular rate and subsidized rate. They use a curriculum and introduce a second language to the children. Their program is fueled by research. The second half of the center is focused on parent education and support. The center offers a parent library, parent education sessions, and general support. Parenting can be an overwhelming and sometimes isolated plight; The William L. Clay Early Childhood Development and Parenting Center recognizes the struggle of parenting and helps parents by providing education and support.

Health Care and Medical Assistance

Washington University in St. Louis houses the largest hospital in Missouri, Barnes-Jewish Hospital. This hospital utilizes skilled doctors, residency programs, interns, and students to provide the finest healthcare to community members. Their facilities included a cancer center, heart and vascular center, lung care, transplant support, orthopedics, neurological care, radiology, and trauma care. They attempt to give well-rounded health services by not only providing comprehensive health care, but also having guest services assist visitors find their way around the large hospital campus and refugee services to assist new immigrants who are not well versed in English.

Bilingual Services

Students and their families whose first language is not English face unique challenges compared to their native English speaking peers. Regardless of intellectual ability, these students are sometimes stigmatizes as less intelligent than their classmates when, in reality, there only challenge is language, not learning issues. Combatting this issues when the child is in an early childhood program is most appropriate, as this is the optimal time for children to learn a new language. Parents as Teacher face this issues head-on by pairing with the White House to introduce an initiative on education excellence for Hispanics. Hispanic students are the primary second language students in the United States. By focusing on these students needs, the education system can revolutionize bilingual services. This program was founded in 1984 in the state of Missouri. Since then the program has grown across all 50 states and has served more than 240,000 students.

Children with Disabilities

Non-native English speakers are not alone in their unique challenged, but students with disabilities are also at a disadvantages to their peers. The Missouri Department of Education establish a programs exclusive to young children with disabilities, First Step. First Step offers support and education to families of special needs children from birth to three years old. Parenting special needs students can be confusing and overwhelming. First Step gives parents resources to understand their child’s disability, gain assistance in intervening with educational goals, and help parents create the ideal conditions for their child to grow and develop appropriately.

Social Services

Early childhood works, and those who work with any age of children, should be trained to note abuse or neglect. They should also be trained to support families in hopes of preventing neglect or abuse. The Saint Louis Crisis Nursery is one resource for teachers and children when abuse and neglect occurs. Their goal is not to take children away permanently. Instead the Crisis Nursery believes it is best to keep children with their families. They provide short-term care for children while their parents and family undergo recovery and training so that they can provide a safe and loving environment for their children. The nursery also provides community outreach; this outreach helps schools and other community members know how to identify abuse and neglect and helps those individuals find a safe place for the children. The nursery serves children from birth to 12 years old. It directly serves families, as it welcomes parents to bring their children to the center when they face issues such as overwhelming stress, domestic violence, sibling death, or lack of food, shelter or other necessary resources.

Community Resources

St. Louis has a variety of resources from parents and families with young children. Education is likely the most obvious resource people consider for their children. Educational facilities not only provide students with a place to learn, develop, and socialize, it also gives parents safe and reliable child care while they are busy at work. There are a variety of child care facilities in St. Louis; William L. Clay Childhood Development and Parenting Center is likely a leader in child care in the area. Not only does the center provide daytime care for children, but they also help support families with the difficult task of caring for their children.

More programs are leaning towards helping parents reach their fullest potential while also educating their children. This idea is seen in William L. Clay Childhood Development and Parenting Center, but also in a variety of organizations. Parents as Teachers provides parents with resources to help their children learn and develop at home. This program support initiatives such as reading programs, which give books to low income families, and Hispanic student initiatives. Parents know their children better than anyone else and are best equipped to be their teacher. Parents need only a little guidance and support to reach their full potential. First Step is another program that helps parents and families; this program focuses on students with disabilities. It gives parents support and resources to help their children grow and develop according to their abilities.

While parent focused early childhood education is important, educational facilities such as schools and daycares also play a pivotal role in child development. It gives student the opportunity to socialize and learn with a trained professional. It also gives parents a much needed break from their children. Child Care Aware helps support childcare centers, ensuring they are providing optimal education to their students. Child Care Aware is data driven, meaning they utilize studies and previous experience to evolve child care programs.

Parent and family resources may start with education, but they expand to other areas of life, including health care and child welfare services. St. Louis is lucky to have top of the line health care facilities as part of Washington University. Barnes-Jewish Hospital meets a variety of health care needs, including heart health, cancer, and transplants. Having state of the art health care facilities helps encourage healthy living across the community, as they have a reliable resource to turn to when health concerns strike. Child welfare is invaluable to communities as, unfortunately, not all individuals are prepared to be parents. The Crisis Nursery gives parents a safe place to turn to when they feel they can no longer provide a safe place for their children. Whether the parent is enduring domestic violence or extreme stress, they can turn to the Crisis Nursery for short term childcare; this is preventative effort to keep children safe.

Teachers Use of Community Resources

The primary goal of teachers is to teach students and help them develop. However, that goal extends outside of the classroom. Teachers can utilize community resources to help parents when they note gaps at home. For example, students whose native language is something other than English not only have language hurdles to leap, but their parents likely also have language barriers. As teachers provide these students with additional resources to help their student, they can extend those resources to the parents as well. In addition, teachers may note early signs of abuse. In some cases the teacher can guide the parent to the Crisis Nursery; this may not work in all situations and teacher may have to speak with social services if the student is in real danger.

Interview Summary

Conclusion

Early childhood centers play a significant part in child development. Parents place a large amount of trust in these centers. For some parents, these daycare centers are the first facilities to take over childcare on a large scale for their families. Parents need a safe place with staff they they can trust. While child care facilities are primarily focused on what the center can provide for the student, they are evolving to include what the school can provide to the parents. Parents need support and education about best practices for their students. The William L. Clay Childhood Development and Parent Center is a prime example of an early childhood center that supports both the children and the parents. They do this by giving students comprehensive education, but also giving parents resources and classes to evolve into the best possible parent.

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