Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Preschool children learning their letters and spelling at Craig County Child Care Center, CCCCC. Pictured are; Ryan, Jeremiah, Maggie, Gunner, Thomas, Chloe and Lily.

School isn’t just for kids and teens! The Craig County Child Care Center (CCCCC) is not only opening their doors for school to start, but with a new and exciting program which will benefit even more young children in Craig County.

“We at CCCCC are excited to announce that we are partnering with TAP Head Start this year,” Director Teresa Oliver announced. “We are one of only five in the state of Virginia to be the recipients of a Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) grant.”

Added Debbie Snead, founder of CCCCCC: “We are very grateful to receive such a prestigious award for our Craig Center. Sometimes being rural and low income has its advantages in the proposal world, but this grant is mainly due to the hard work and writing skills of our Executive Director, Teresa Oliver.” Snead also serves on the Board of Craig County Youth and Community Services.

Oliver shared that, as a partner with TAP Head Start, they will be expanding their preschool program to include Head Start funded positions. “This will afford the Craig County Child Care Center to expand to serve a total of 34 three and four-year-old children,” she said.

Snead added that Oliver has implemented several programs at the Center “above and beyond licensing requirements”, enhancing quality in educational, physical, social and emotional care for children.

Also, through this partnership the CCCCC will not only expand services, but also the educational training and services of their staff. “All staff will receive educational training to meet the stringent Head Start Federal mandated standards,” Oliver said. “As well the grant will allow classrooms to be equipped with the latest high quality childcare equipment.” This news excited the teachers as well.

The program will run Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Families that qualify for Head Start positions will receive these services free of charge.

“The classrooms will be referred to as a ‘mixed delivery’ setting which means that children who are receiving Head Start services will be served in classrooms with non-Head Start children,” Oliver explained. Each child will receive the same educational preschool instruction and kindergarten readiness skills that tuition and subsidized families are receiving. “This is an effort to help all children entering kindergarten enter on a level playing field, regardless of a family’s income,” Oliver added.

Also, for the first time ever, in an effort to be affordable to families not qualifying for Head Start subsidies the CCCCC is offering a 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. rate. “This will help families that do not need the full day (6 a.m. – 6 p.m.) services but would like for their child to receive preschool services,” Oliver said. “This is a God-send to us as we have been hoping to have our child there and this will open a new door for us as parents,” one family shared.

This expansion of services will help families ‘aging out’ of the Early Head Start (EHS) program find services. “The Early Head Start services that we offer serve children six weeks to 36 months,” Oliver said. “These two programs, Early Head Start and Head Start, will give children and families the ability to receive quality preschool experiences and services to help prepare them for successful school careers.”

In addition, Oliver said that it also allows families to feel safe and allow both parents to work outside of the home for higher family incomes, or single parent families to seek work or further schooling, while their children are in a quality educational setting.

“Teresa Oliver and the Center have been portrayed as a model center by the United Way and Head Start, in presentations to their Boards, other directors and legislative representatives,” Snead said. “I am very proud of Teresa, Assistant Director Brandy Waldin and our entire staff.”

CCCCC will be hosting their Annual Open House on August 14. “Parents can get more information about programming, enrollment, fees and educational curriculum during the open house,” Oliver said. “We will be open for parents to visit and ask questions from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., so please feel free to stop by and learn more about the wonderful educational programs we have to offer your child.”

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