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Stamford's Vita Launches Pilot Program To Support Low-Income Families

Marc Jaffe, CEO, Childcare Learning Centers, chats with preschoolers.
Marc Jaffe, CEO, Childcare Learning Centers, chats with preschoolers. Photo Credit: Submitted
Preschoolers in Stamford.
Preschoolers in Stamford. Photo Credit: Submitted

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Research shows clear links between family support and kids’ academic success; between education and economic self-sufficiency; between financial security and health. Focused on strengthening connections on all those variables, among others, Stamford’s Vita Health & Wellness District has launched a new program to prepare preschoolers to do well in school.

Called Parents as Co-Educators, the program offers a range of supports to non-English-speaking, low-income families with children enrolled at Childcare Learning Centers. The goal is to prepare parents to be active supporters of their children’s academic success.

“We are enthusiastic about the capabilities and resources that our new partners bring to the families we work with,” explained Marc E. Jaffe, CEO of Childcare Learning Center. “We are a holistic program, open 10 hours a day, 51 weeks a year, supporting working class families. We engage with our parents but we can never do enough – our hands are already full working with the children. The notion that we now have professional, trained talent and resources, measurable ones, to bring to the families is energizing.”

A collaboration of Vita partners Family Centers, Childcare Learning Centers and Neighbors Link, with additional support from Stamford Hospital and Charter Oak Communities, the three-year research and development project is designed to close achievement gaps, improve wellness, enhance education and engage the local community in supporting immigrant families. Specific goals include improvement of parenting skills and removal of socio-economic barriers that interfere with educational performance and contribute to challenges for at-risk immigrant populations.

Services include parenting education, literacy/ESL support, case management and referral services, said Vita Administrator Leslie P. Sexer. “When parents become more active as co-educators to their children, we expect to see a measureable reduction of disparities in public school readiness,” she said.

“We’re very pleased to be a partner in this innovative program, which acknowledges the critical role parents play in helping their children succeed in school, on the playground, and in their community,” added Vincent J. Tufo, executive director and CEO, Charter Oak Communities.

The Co-Educators program will feature a shared measurement system spearheaded by the Harvard Business School – Community Partners. The program was launched with funding provided by the Grossman Family Foundation, the Singer Foundation, the Lone Pine Foundation and the Fairfield County Foundation, along with support by Charter Oak Communities and Stamford Hospital.

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