Inspiring Young Children ONE CHILD AT A TIME

by Dianne Reed

children1“This facility has been a haven for Titus.  The staff love and nurture him in ways I never  dreamt possible. He has flourished socially,  and I couldn’t have wished a better place for  him. His language is off the charts for his age,  and I definitely attribute a lot of that because  of the creative learning environment. The  entire staff personally greets him with a warm  smile. I could write pages on how impressed  I am with the program.”

This quote is from a  parent whose child is enrolled in the NCEF  Early Childhood Development Center, one of  the three early childhood care and education  programs operated by Collier Child Care  Resources (CCCR).

The center’s early childhood development  program is exceptional, having won  three top honors in 2015. The program  earned reaccreditation from the National  Accreditation Commission (NAC) for Early  Care and Education; a five star rating from  the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest  Florida through its Southwest Florida Stars  Program; and 100 percent of the five-year olds scored “Ready to Learn” when they  entered kindergarten. Considering 75 percent  of the children enrolled are from low-income  families, these awards speak volumes about the  center’s educators who strive for excellence in  early childhood education.

children2“At the end of the day, it is satisfying to  know that our program has earned these  awards, but the living proof is to observe the children and witness how much they are loved  and inspired to learn. They leave with strong  social and emotional skills,” says Niccole  Howard, Executive Director of CCCR.

Howard continues, “Over 60 percent of  these children live at or below poverty level,  and 75 percent receive partial tuition assistance.

With the average cost of childcare at $11,000  per child, it is easy to see how families would  struggle with this expense. We are continually  looking for ways to help these children from  families who cannot afford the cost.”

CCCR serves over 275 children annually  in their three programs for early childhood care and education. In addition to the NCEF Early  Childhood Development Center, CCCR operates the  A Step Up Child Development Centers at Golden  Gate and Immokalee High Schools for the children,  ages birth-five years of teen parents who wish to  complete their high school education. Early childhood  symposiums and professional trainings are offered for  over 1,750 teachers annually.

children3Support for CCCR’s programs comes from a  number of community resources including the Naples  Children & Education Foundation, founders of the  Naples Winter Wine Festival; the United Way of  Collier County; the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation; and the Community Foundation of  Collier County. The need for partial tuition assistance  and supplies is on-going and relies upon individual  donors, grants from foundations, corporations, and  proceeds from fundraisers.

Local businesses support CCCR through an  initiative called the “CCCR Business 100.” So far, 58  companies have joined and give an annual contribution.  Many of its members hold networking events which  draw in more members. Indira Maharaj, VP Branch Manager of IberiaBank, says that IberiaBank has held  two well-attended networking events at their location  for the CCCR Business 100. “It is a win-win situation.

We meet new clients; and CCCR benefits from gaining  new supporters for their organization.”

In further describing what CCCR is all about, it  would not be complete without mentioning something  about the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education to  which it adheres. This philosophy is at the heart of  every interaction the teachers have with the children. It  views young children as unique and competent beings  with rights rather than needs. The teacher is not there  to “fill” a child’s mind but to “light a fire” from within.

There is a great emphasis on the arts in the curriculum.  Kathy Hostetler, Teaching Artist at the NCEF  Early Childhood Education Center says, “At the end of  each day, I am filled with an inner sense of how truly  important art is in the development of a young child.

When they create something, with their own hands,  confidence is strengthened in so many ways and imparts  open-mindedness and allows for positive cognitive  growth. Knowing that I have given everything to inspire  the children to be all that they can be is the best part of  my job.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.