March Message from Deb Green
March 2, 2016
Diversity Like No Other
As someone who has been in the field of early childhood education for nearly thirty-five years, I have visited many, many early childhood programs via consulting, conferences, and accreditation validation work.
What I learned is that child care programs tend to be economically segregated. Either they are located in low-income communities where most (if not all) of the families receive state subsidy for child care, or they are located in higher income communities where most (if not all) of the families pay the full cost of care. In both of these situations, there is little diversity among the children and families.
A rare level of diversity
What strikes me everyday (and everyone who visits) is that PIC has a level of diversity that is seen in very few programs.
We have families of all races, religions, cultural backgrounds, family composition, as well as socio-economic levels. PIC has long-believed (and research has shown) the importance of children being among peers who are both alike and different in all kinds of ways.
From its earliest days, PIC has welcomed children whose families could not afford the full cost of care. We have many families who are part of the statewide subsidized child care system (CCIS) and PA’s Pre-K Counts program.
PIC also established an internal Tuition Assistance Fund to help families who were not eligible for the state subsidy system, but for whom the full cost of care was a bit out of their reach. PIC’s two big fundraisers, ArtStart and the upcoming Spring Plant Sale support this fund.
It is the philosophical foundation of PIC and the demographics of the West Philadelphia neighborhood that offer us a unique opportunity to create a space where children from all economic levels and backgrounds can play and learn together.
What lies ahead
This is an incredibly exciting time in the field of early childhood education. On the city, state and national level leaders are trying to find ways that all children have access to quality early education. The idea of universal pre-k is on the horizon everywhere.
What can we do? PIC’s Board of Directors is interested in increasing our socio-economic diversity and is exploring possible program expansion through that lens. There are many things to consider, including space, financial feasibility, programmatic decisions, and assuring that our policies and procedures reflect an inclusiveness of all.
Time to add your two cents
PIC has always been on the forefront of providing high quality child care. Now, we have a chance to better reflect the true definition of diversity and extend the benefits of PIC care and education to more families. We want for other children what we want for "our" children--the best early childhood experience.
Making sure that our long-held traditions and values remain at the core of PIC is one of the most important parts of this conversation. In upcoming months, we will invite you to join center-wide discussions and I hope that you will lend your voice.