ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis day care center hopes to break the cycle of poverty by providing services for both parents and children.
SouthSide Early Childhood Center offers free resources such as health and developmental screenings for children, and classes for parents, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
"'Who do you exist to serve?' I think is the question people don't always ask themselves," SouthSide's Executive Director Katie Rahn said. "You should really know what the population needs and work backward in developing that programming."
Parents can learn how to cook, save money and build credit. Parents also have access to donation bins of clothes, shoes and books.
Staff members encourage parents to get involved in their children's education and development. Staff members teach parents about developmental milestones to watch for and educational games to play with children. They also advise parents on how to pick a good school for their children and help create individualized education plans for children with special needs.
SouthSide provides early care and education for children ages 6 weeks through 5 years. About 80 percent of kids qualify for federal Head Start funding and can attend the center for free. Despite public subsidies, the center raises approximately $1 million annually to help fund its operations.
About 96 percent of the children who graduate from the center are meeting developmental expectations, according to the center's data.
Much of that success can be attributed to the quality of the center's staff members, Rahn said.
"We require bachelor's and master's degrees for all teachers," she said.
There are usually 100 families on the center's waitlist.