Doors Open at Compass Child Care Services in Millbrook

Photo Karen Graham.
Staff members Norma Curtis and Krysta Sage set up the infant room in the new daycare facility.

After months of construction and a few missed deadlines, the much anticipated early learning centre housed in the new addition of the Millbrook South Cavan School will open for business on April 3rd. It features full time capacity for ten infants aged six weeks to 18 months, 15 toddlers and 24 preschool children.   The program allows for full or part-time registration, and there are currently some openings at all age levels. They will also offer a full-time summer program.

Compass Early Learning and Care is a licensed, progressive, non-profit organization providing unique early learning and child care programs in Peterborough, Durham, Northumberland and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Formerly known as Kawartha Child Care Services, it began in 1981 offering in home day care services in Peterborough. The organization has grown rapidly because they are in a growing market providing a critical service to young families, but also because they demonstrate an outstanding appreciation for their customers. Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for their vulnerable customers, the organization offers a wide variety of programs in different settings, including home- based care options as well as more institutional settings in public buildings like the one about to open in our community.

Compass staff demonstrate a sensitivity to their host communities, which stems from the top level of the organization. According to Executive Director, Sheila Olan-MacLean, the program delivered in each location is affected by its host community. Unlike the school system, there is no curriculum to deliver, so the program is influenced by the nature and participation of the community.   This flexibility allows program delivery at each location to incorporate local features and experiences into the children’s activities. Pedagogical leads Norma Curtis and Krysta Sage echo that sentiment, and are looking for ways to bring their charges to local sites to foster a closer bond with the community.   They will also encourage volunteer participation in the organization once the program is more established. Of course being in the same building as their elementary school neighbours offers the opportunity to engage older students into some of their activities.

The __ staff members include Moyra Seabright who has worked with the organization for -_ years managing the delivery of its after school programs in Millbrook. Moyra embraces the philosophy of the organization, which is based on respect. Compass provides stimulating environments which encourage their youngsters to explore and collaborate. Their curriculum is built on the assumption that children are competent, curious and have rights rather than needs, and the organization develops its programs through the careful observation and documentation of each child’s daily experiences through play. Staff see parents as partners, recognizing that families understand their children best and make essential contributions to their child’s learning and development. Communication is key, and parents can observe their child’s activities and development by browsing through the meticulous documentation prepared for each child in portfolios that include journals, photos and stories accumulated as the children learn through play.

Last week staff was on hand unloading boxes and setting up classrooms with new furniture, cribs, rugs and toys to welcome their new charges. They are particularly excited to have a grassy play area for the children which will be installed shortly. In addition to their program rooms, their facilities include a laundry room and a commercial grade kitchen, which staff hope will provide a resource to develop joint activities with the elementary school children.

The arrival of this inclusive and open resource for young families is a welcome addition for young families and arrives at a perfect time to accommodate the anticipated influx of new young families to our area as new developments come on stream. While it is rarely easy for a young mother to work at the end of her maternity leave, the availability of quality programs such as this and the convenience of having children housed in a single location during the school day can ease the transition back to work for both parent and child. KG

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