Positive physical and mental stimulation in a child’s first years lays the foundation for success in school and beyond. With three out of four American children cared for outside the home by age four, clearly the quality of those early learning experiences is critical. However, experts say the vast majority of children currently receive low-quality care in poorly designed programs with inadequately trained staff. United Way of Miami-Dade is committed to elevating the quality of early childhood education for all children, through a new, comprehensive approach to early learning.
The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, which officially opens on February 22, 2007 in Miami, is an innovative learning, teaching, research, and training facility all in one. Unlike any other facility in the country, the Center provides comprehensive training and information to adult-learners, including parents, educators, business leaders and researchers, as well as the best available care and education to young children ages six weeks to five years old.
“The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education is a national focal point for people passionate about early learning,” Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO of United Way of Miami-Dade, said. “If we want to make a measurable difference in the lives of young children and their families, we must teach people what high-quality early education is and implement these superior practices and programs across the country. Collaboration is critical – the entire community from business leaders to lawmakers must work together.”
United Way joined forces with some of the nation’s leading child advocates to develop a facility which truly is a model for excellence. The Center’s Demonstration School offers children an ideal environment to learn and grow, while at the same time allows adult-learners to monitor classroom activities. Through the use of microphones and one-way glass, adults can observe high-quality care and education without interrupting the child’s learning process. Among the best practices modeled at the Demonstration School is a dual language program, where students as young as six weeks old are fully immersed in two languages, learning their home language in addition to a second language. The Center also has a thriving arts component, which helps children develop fine motor skills, pre-literacy skills, and pre-math skills through dance, drama, visual, and literary arts.
While children are exposed to best practices in the Demonstration School, adult-learners can study those same practices in the facility’s Business Learning Center and gather information at the Resource Library and Training Center. Through its community outreach programs, United Way’s Center for Excellence in Early Education offers seminars, workshops, and other resources to promote high-quality early learning. The Center is also working with a number of major universities and organizations to research innovative practices and techniques in the field of early education.
United Way recruited some of the top minds in the field of early care and education to serve on the Center’s national advisory board. Currently the board is comprised of 41 of the nation’s top children’s advocates and educators, including Marian Wright-Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund; Howard Gardner, PhD, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Sharon Lyn Kagan, EdD, The Yale Child Study Center; David Lawrence Jr., The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation; and Donna Shalala, PhD, University of Miami.
High-resolution photos and additional background materials on the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education are available upon request. For more information on United Way of Miami-Dade visit our website at www.unitedwaymiami.org.