Center Director Heather Freese
On January 22nd, the MinneMinds campaign hosted a gubernatorial conversation in St. Cloud, Minnesota featuring two candidates for governor, State Representatives Tina Liebling and Erin Murphy. As our first forum in Greater Minnesota, it was an opportunity for candidates to learn more about some of the unique challenges many families and providers face in Greater Minnesota.
The forum was also provided an opportunity to learn more about some of the ways child care providers are innovating, and how they are adapting to challenges, which was on display at Playhouse Child Care Center Inc. This Four-Star Parent Aware-rated facility is delivering high-quality results for children and is meeting the needs of a diverse set of parents and families in St. Cloud.
What makes Playhouse unique is its partnership with Reach-Up Head Start. This partnership provides more high-quality care for local, low-income families to prepare them for kindergarten, including additional staff that can spend more quality one on one time with kids. In the classrooms that have these staff, the ratio for caregiver to child is 1:7 vs 1:10 for other rooms. While this may not seem like much, it can provide strong benefits for children and their development.
It’s also important that children are given the tools to succeed at every level of development. Research shows that 90% of brain development occurs by the age of five – it’s crucial during these years that kids are on track. At Playhouse, each level of a child’s development has age-appropriate programming, from infant, toddler, preschool to school-age. This programming covers everything from what children eat, how much rest they get, to their outdoor play time.
Playhouse is committed to serving the diverse set of families in St. Cloud. Considering its location near St. Cloud Community and Technical College, Playhouse serves many parents who are students at the college – providing multigenerational benefits for students advancing their own education while their children receive high-quality care.
At Playhouse, 33 families receive funding from CCAP and 34 children currently receive state early learning scholarships. Demand for high-quality care is growing, and the center doubled in size in 2016 – and has slots available for 96 families, a number that will continue to grow.
Access to high-quality care and education is crucial to the health and well-being of Minnesota’s families and children. MinneMinds is committed to increasing this access, but also to finding flexible ways to deliver this crucial need. Many early care providers are working to find ways to innovate and deliver results, and the partnership between Playhouse and Head Start is just one way.
Playhouse Child Care Center Inc.’s goal “is for each child to develop a sense of positive self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth providing the foundation for children to prepare them for school readiness.” With their Head Start partnership, funding from early learning scholarships, and Four-Star Parent Aware rating, Playhouse Child Care Center Inc. is an example of high-quality care made possible by state early learning investment.