Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) has been identified by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) as an operation site for its statewide initiative, Project 26. Currently, CLC is one of over 28 sites throughout the State participating in the program, also called CTCARES for Hospital Workers.
The initiative was facilitated by the OEC at the request of Connecticut Governor Lamont and evolved through existing community partnerships between currently licensed child care facilities and hospitals to ensure hospital staff has child care close to their work. Connecticut's Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye said 50 percent of the calls to the State's 211 helpline are from hospital workers looking for childcare. Bye noted a $3 million private donation is now supporting 29 hospitals through 4CT, Connecticut's charity connection.
Currently, CLC is providing remote support to enrolled families, but its Palmers Hill location recently re-opened as a Project 26 site to welcome the children of Stamford Health. Chief Executive Officer Marc Jaffe calls these frontline workers the "warriors" in the fight against COVID-19. "The objective is to ensure the health care workers can do their job and be assured that their children are being taken care of." CLC can serve up to 26 children 6 weeks - 5 years old. Employee referrals must come through Stamford Health. CLC's staff team is being led by Mary Basso, Director of Child Development Program, and Linda Barge, Education Manager for the Child Development Program. "Overseeing this program has been a rewarding experience for me, and there is no more important work that we can do in support of our healthcare workers and our community," commented Barge.
CLC is more than an early childhood education center; it is "an economic engine," explained Jaffe. "We enable more parents of young children to work than any other nonprofit in Southwest CT." Under normal circumstances, CLC educates and cares for 950 children a day, 10 hours a day, 51 weeks a year in its 8 locations. In addition, CLC is the largest food provider to young children in Southwest CT, serving nearly ½ million meals and snacks a year.
CLC has been a leader in developing and implementing high-quality and affordable early childhood education and care programs since 1902. All of the nonprofit agency's eight locations are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or approved by Federal Head Start.
Contributed photo: CLC Project 26 Team