Early childhood learning center at BC offers specialized curriculum

Michael Gennaro

Editor-In-Chief

According to a 2018 report by USA Today, Broward County is the costliest county in the state of Florida when it comes to childcare costs. This cost is a hardship to all parents, but it can be especially crippling to student-parents.

Student-parents at Broward College should not give up on finding affordable childcare, however. The Early Childhood Learning Center (ECL) on Broward College’s North Campus may be just the remedy for a student-parent in need.

The ECL is the only dual-purpose public laboratory school in Broward County that provides childcare assistance to student-parents as well as firsthand training for college students who are enrolled in early childhood education programs. It boasts five specialized classrooms, two different playgrounds and an enthusiastic staff. Kids learn, play, eat and socialize in an educational environment.

Children from ages 1-5 partake in a creative curriculum that is in line with all state and national early learning standards. Small class sizes with qualified instructors ensure that each child’s needs are met.

Jennifer Amador, Director of the ECL at North Campus, is intent on making sure every child, no matter how young, has a fantastic educational experience at the ECL.

“We go from ages 1 to 5. Even the 1-year-olds have a curriculum. Whether it’s through song or whatever activity they’re doing, it’s always learning,” Amador said.

Far from an average head start experience, the curriculum at the ECL is specialized.

“We do a lot of STEM here, a lot of STEAM as well. Science, math, technology and the arts.”

“We use the creative curriculum here,” Amador said. “Every month we have a new study. The teachers will plan based on the interests of the children.”

As an example, Amador brought up that the students are currently studying balls. How they move, components, how they bounce. The curriculum is catered differently to different age groups.

While younger students might just watch how a ball bounces, the older students might learn the basic science concepts on why the ball bounces and more advanced concepts related to play.

Amador wants to keep parents involved in the process as well.

“We do community engagement with the families every month. This month we did a book drive with the families, kids exchanged books.”

“I don’t think a lot of student-parents would be able to continue with their own schooling if the ECL wasn’t here. Childcare is VERY expensive,” Amador said.

As well as the ECL is doing right now, more help is on the way soon.

Childcare Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) is a $1.5 million grant aimed at giving additional financial support to student-parents at Broward College. The money from this grant will also help the ECL hire more staff.

Along with bolstering the ECL, this grant will allow the college to contract local childcare providers near the three BC campuses or low-income areas. The aim, as always, is to break down barriers to education.

“By helping student-parents with quality, affordable and accessible learning environments for their children, we are ensuring they can focus on learning and stay on track to completing their postsecondary goals,” remarked Broward College President Gregory Haile in a recent press release.

The CCAMPIS program will target Pell Grant-eligible students and students with financial need.

In 2018-19, Broward College reported that 76 percent of students were Pell-eligible.

“It’s very exciting to know that we’re helping students in general, not just here at the ECL but wherever they can find quality care in their community,” Amador said.

“The goal is to get them to graduate.”

The ECL is in high demand and has a recurring waitlist. The school can have up to 90 children at one time.

Student-parents taking at least 6 credit hours who are interested in the ECL can call the center at 954-201-2440 for further instruction.

gennm2@mail.broward.edu

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