Children's Center Awarded Scholarship Funds
Spying a drawing of canines on the wall, Sen. Pat Vance asked the 3-year-olds if any of them had a dog at home. Small hands shot into the air. “I do!” one said. “I have a fish!” another offered. “I have a sister!” another added, eagerly.
Vance had come to the Dickinson College Children’s Center to celebrate the donation of $12,500 in Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program scholarships by SeniorLIFE York and the Bridge Educational Foundation. Part of a Pennsylvania program in support of pre-kindergarten education, the scholarship funds will help qualified families take advantage of the center’s exceptional programming for children from 6 weeks to 6 years old. [Story continues below.]
Unique to Pennsylvania, the EITC initiative provides a tax credit of 100 percent of funds contributed to pre-kindergarten scholarships of up to $10,000 per year, and 90 percent of additional funds of up to $150,000 per year. The Bridge Educational Foundation, established under the EITC program, partnered with SeniorLIFE York to support scholarships at five select employer-provided childcare facilities, including the Dickinson College Children’s Center.
“Children who grow up with no books and no support for education in the home are at a huge disadvantage when they enter school,” said Vance, who represents Pennsylvania’s Cumberland and York counties. Quality early-childhood programs such as those found at Dickinson, she added, can set them on the right track.
A head start
That’s a founding principle at the Children’s Center, which is open to families in the Dickinson and surrounding communities. The facility will provide care, an individual base and personal enrichment for 114 pre-kindergarten students this year.
All of the center’s 25 staff members have bachelor’s or associate’s degrees, and there is at least one certified teacher in every classroom, said the center’s director, Gina Van Kirk. “We also have a very supportive clientele, and that makes our job easier, because we are all on the same page,” she explained. “We all want what is best for the child.”
Vance and Ross Nese of SeniorLIFE York saw the results of that shared mission Aug. 13 when they each read a book to a classroom of inquisitive, engaged three-year-olds. Nese concluded the presentation by telling the children, “You’re very lucky. When you get into grade school and high school, you’ll be way ahead of everyone else.”
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow ’77