As I write this, I have less than 76 hours before my son leaves for college. The three of us; me, him and my daughter are gathered around the fire pit in my backyard. There’s a request to watch baby videos from when they were little this weekend. Oh my, can I do this?
By now, I’ve had three breakdowns in the last six days and one mini one in my office with my coworkers. I took the first part of the week off and we spent time tubing down the Green River, buying things for his dorm room, and I’ve somehow managed to turn into a domestic goddess as a stay at home mom…cooking breakfast, big dinners, and packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for picnics. Where has the time gone? I remember when he was born, older mothers would warn me to enjoy it because it goes by so fast. I’d nod my head and smile politely, having absolutely no clue how right they were, and how in these last hours I’d wish for nothing more than to grab the clocks and turn back time. I want a do over.
These days it’s me I hear telling young mothers to enjoy this…it’s gonna fly by. They are nodding and smiling politely, and I just want to look them in the eyes and say, “LISTEN to me…hear this truth.”
I can’t help but think about the parents with babies getting ready to take their first steps into a Kindergarten classroom. I remember, just like it is for me now, the emotions, tears, fears and joy for your child colliding into a big old mess.
We learned in our most recent gathering of data about children that over 50% of children who entered Kindergarten last year, came in ‘already behind’ their peers and seemingly unprepared for success. This was a first year measure, so we don’t know yet if we’ve gotten better or worse over time. We will soon get our first comparative look. This is why it’s so important that our homes and the day cares that our babies spend their first years of life in are top quality, nurturing environments. The Children & Family Resource Center is helping make sure children in our community have the best environments for children to grow and learn.
First, we’re helping families. Our programs help build parenting skills and teach parents how to create loving, nurturing and stimulating home environments that encourage their child’s development and ensure that they’ll be ready when they step across the threshold to Kindergarten. In at risk families, we are helping to stabilize the home and helping mitigate some of the damaging impacts of poverty and stress.
We also help child care providers improve the quality of their programs. Thousands of our children spend some time in a local child care program each day while their parents work. Thousands more are in half day preschool/church programs throughout our county. These places need to foster a child’s development and learning, while providing a safe and loving place to be.
When the Children & Family Resource Center opened its doors fifteen years ago, the State of NC had just begun rating child care quality. They do so on a five point scale. At the time, the average child care quality ranking for Henderson County was little more than 1.5 stars. Today, it is 4.41 stars, better than the average child care quality across the entire state! This is the direct result of the work of our Child Care Resource & Referral program, which provides in-classroom technical assistance and support and professional development for early childhood educators.
One of the other things we do at the Center to make sure children are ready for success in school, is to provide screenings for developmental delays through our PREP program. This program provides developmental screenings to all local 3, 4, and 5 year olds who are enrolled in a child care program or a half day preschool program in Henderson County. When delays are identified, the PREP program works individually with each child to help address the delay. The service is available free of charge and parents of children who are not enrolled in a child care program can contact the Children & Family Resource Center to schedule a screening appointment.
By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be carrying boxes up a flight of dorm steps into my son’s new ‘home.’ Crying? Probably. Proud and excited? Most certainly! Is he ready? I think so. I hope I will see you at our Open House on Thursday, August 28, 2014 where we will celebrate our 15th Birthday with our community. You’ll have an opportunity to tour our facility and meet our program staff first-hand and learn more about the things we do here to help improve the lives of children. The event is from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm with comments at 5:30 followed by a champagne toast and cupcakes. Please join us.
The Children & Family Resource Center improves the lives of children through parent education, quality child care resources and leadership on children’s issues throughout the community. To learn more about our programs please visit our website, www.childrenandfamily.org or call us at (828) 698-0674.