4-year-old Zeddicus Jones looks up as Becki McFarland, suns p.m. lead teacher, reads a book to the class on Thursday at Community Child Care Center. (JACQUI THOMASSON)
4-year-old Zeddicus Jones looks up as Becki McFarland, suns p.m. lead teacher, reads a book to the class on Thursday at Community Child Care Center.

JACQUI THOMASSON

Center provides accessible childcare for families

Children learn reading, science and math basics through arts and craft projects

February 11, 2020

For the past 50 years, Community Child Care Center has provided early childhood education and childcare services to families throughout Whitman County.    

“Currently, we provide about 275 children [with] early childhood educational support,” Mary McDonald, Community Child Care Center executive director said.

The center has two independent locations in Pullman and Colfax. It also operates out of five school districts in less populated parts of the county and the WSU Children’s Center.

Many of the programs offered through the child care center support low income families, McDonald said. Families who rely on childcare services so that the parents may work often struggle to find affordable programs, depending on where they live, she said.

5-year-old Lola Okusanya points and laughs as her lead teacher reads “There Was an Old Lad Who Swallowed a Frog!” to the class on Thursday at Community Child Care Center.

The center does not charge families within certain income brackets for their preschool and Early Head Start (EHS) programs, she said. Families in these programs must provide their income as part of the application process.

“We serve a need in the community,” she said. “Some of [the families we work with] haven’t had the best of opportunities, so we meet that need.”

Community Child Care Center provides a specialized family support program to help families prepare their children for preschool, McDonald said.

“[Parents] are their child’s first and foremost teacher,” Amy Robbins, Family Services and EHS manager, said.

EHS works with families from before the child is born to age three, Robbins said.

“We really work to develop strong personal relationships with each of our families,” McDonald said. “That just makes the services to the child so much stronger.”

EHS also teaches parents how to interact with their children’s teachers in the future to ensure they understand the child’s progress, she said.

“We have two family consultants who actually visit people in their home with their child,” Robbins said. “They’re there to promote the child’s first educational experiences.”

Education is also individualized based on the developmental progress and needs of each child, McDonald said.

Children who are newly accepted into the preschool program undergo a screening to determine the possibility of developmental delays, she said. From there, the students take a series of assessments throughout their first school year.

“The teacher puts the child on a developmental line where we know where the child is,” McDonald said. “From that, we track … growth and progress.”

Teachers also use these lines to communicate with parents about their child’s development throughout the year, she said.

The preschool program offered through the center follows a creative curriculum, Robbins said. This means the students use in-class craft projects to learn the skills they will need when they enter kindergarten.

4-year-old Braylynne Bray sits while her teachers transition the class to new activities on Thursday at Community Child Care Center.

In the preschool program, classes have one lead teacher, two assistant teachers and no more than 20 students, she said.

“We try to keep our ratios so we always have three teachers in the classroom for about 20 children,” Robbins said. “We make sure all the children get staff interactions and time with adults in the classroom.”

Usually, classrooms have one more adult than is needed to meet the intended student-to-teacher ratio, she said.

The center uses a creative education curriculum, McDonald said. This means they learn basic math, reading and writing skills through in-class arts and crafts projects.

“You’re not just dropping your kids off to play all day,” Robbins said. “There’s an educational component, even in our childcare center.”

The Community Child Care Center in Pullman is located at 530 NW Greyhound Way behind Pullman High School.

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