SWAG, UF’s Anita Zucker Center for Early Childhood Excellence, and O2B Kids have partnered for the purpose of creating the CHILD Center; a child care and early education collaboration to support and enhance the quality of life, health, and early education for young children and families in the SWAG communities in southwest Gainesville.
The CHILD Center Collaboration Vision
The CHILD Center is designed to support and enhance the quality of life, health, and early education for young children and their families. It will provide high quality early learning center for around 50 low income children age 0 to 5 in the heart of the SWAG neighborhoods. For the children that attend, the Center will provide comprehensive child care and early education curriculum, and other valuable resources such as a safe and healthy learning environment, nutritious meals, early identification of learning issues, creative play and exercise, and much more. Additionally, the CHILD Center will offer safe, quality childcare to caregivers that need to go to work, school, or attend other self-improvement programs. The CHILD Center will also provide direct programing for caregivers on topics such as parenting, safety, and nutrition, as well as informal education through things like support groups and volunteer opportunities.
The CHILD Center will create a unique link between the child-focused programs offered at the CHILD Center and the broader resources that currently exist at the SWAG Family Resource Center and the medical and dental services of the SW Health Clinic. These three entities, working together, will provide a safe and nurturing environment in which children can learn and develop, as well as a comprehensive system of care for the well-being of entire families. All of the services will be provided at low or no cost to the families.
The CHILD Center not only brings with it the local reputation and grassroots community involvement of SWAG, but also the expertise of the nationally acclaimed Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, which brings the latest knowledge, policy and practices in early childhood studies. SWAG and its partners are also working closely with the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, the Alachua County public schools, the Early Learning Coalition, Head Start, Well Florida, Meridian Mental Health, and many other experts in the field to make sure that the CHILD Center provides the best opportunities possible for the children enrolled there.
With this team of experts in place, the CHILD Center will also create a model demonstration center for the advancement of professional development in the field of early learning. Childcare providers from across the county will be invited into the CHILD Center to learn best practices from UF’s early learning experts and improve their own model of childcare delivery. The ultimate goal is to replicate the CHILD Center community-wide in order to increase quality of childcare for all of Alachua County’s families. The CHILD Center will create better early learning opportunities for children and provide opportunities for entire families, enabling families to break free from issues associated with generational poverty. By providing evidence-based solutions to early childhood practitioners, childcare providers, early childhood agencies and state and national leaders, communities can be transformed. For children and their families, it will change their lives.
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