Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The Craig County Child Care Center (CCCCC) unequivocally agrees, adding that the earlier one starts learning, the greater chance they have of succeeding in all avenues of life.
Teresa Oliver, Director of CCCCC, is very passionate about youth receiving their education.
“Did you know, at-risk children who don’t receive a high-quality early childhood education are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent and 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education?” she said. “They are also 60 percent more likely never to attend college and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.”
Because of those numbers, CCCCC has purposefully partnered with many local agencies to help ensure Craig County’s children don’t fall into these most discouraging statics.
“We now are able, with collaborations with Early Head Start, to help all Craig County families afford a high-quality early childhood education. In most cases, this means through free or greatly reduced tuition,” Oliver said.
“We want to ensure that all families we serve have access to healthcare services, prenatal and pregnancy education, dental services, family strengthening supports and mental health counseling,” she added. CCCCC is working closely with Craig County Health Department and CHIP-Child Health Investment Partnership to make that happen.
Every parent has heard the phrase “kindergarten ready.” Said Oliver: “This phrase opens the door for parenting insecurities. We, as parents, want only the very best for our children, and the thought that they may be behind or struggle at any point in their lives is certainly not our goal.”
It is believed that most parents begin “preparing their child for kindergarten ”around the age of four. CCCCC, however, believes that really being successful in school needs to start way before that.
Oliver went into further detail. “A child’s brain, the command center of the entire body, is the only organ not fully developed at birth. At birth, the average baby’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. It doubles in size in the first year and keeps growing to about 80 percent of adult size by age three and 90 percent – nearly full grown – by age five. That’s what makes the first three years of life the most critical for educational opportunities,” she said. “The Craig County Child Care Center works with you, the parents, to make sure that every child that passes through our doors will have the most successful early educational experience.”
The staff shared that they believe that positive interactions are one of the most important things they do for their kids. “It helps our children build strong positive self-images,” Oliver said. “We read to them on a daily basis.”
Oliver feels the term “Kindergarten ready” is an overused phrase. “Preparing a child for kindergarten is more than knowing ABC, address and full name,” she said. “Kindergarten readiness describes the capabilities of children, families, schools and communities that promote student success in kindergarten and beyond.”
CCCCC believes that each component – children, families, schools and communities – plays an essential role in developing school readiness.
“Having an early educational experience that is supported by health professionals, educational entities, family development specialists and your child’s community builds a strong foundation for early educational success,” Oliver and her staff noted, encouraging all parents and grandparents to stop in and see how they can serve them.
CCCCC enrolls children six weeks to 12-years-old. They currently have 20 Early Head Start slots and 17 Head Start slots. “These slots are income based and free for the hours of 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. for parents that qualify.
They have traditional tuition slots, and DSS subsidized slots available as well. They will also be opening a new classroom for infants to two-year-olds at the end of the summer.
Currently, CCCCC has 88 enrolled students with limited spots available. “These slots are income based and free the majority of the time,” Oliver added.
Teacher Appreciation Week, usually recognized from May 7 – May 11, was celebrated this year in Craig County. Many “thank-yous” were given to teachers and staff at the Center.
Victor Hugo has often said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
Oliver added, “We at Craig County Child Care Center would love for you to come by meet the teaching staff and learn how we are helping Craig County’s children become successful for our tomorrow.”