Children Center helps entire family

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 4, 2002

Established in 1983, the &uot;Children’s Center&uot; has grown from an agency operated on a $120,000 budget with 12 employees who served 63 children, to a $3.8 million budget with 100 professionals and serves more than 800 children who are assisted by at least one of four programs through the agency.

With such great success in the community, it’s only natural that the Center continues to expand to serve even more children through a variety of services.

Recently, the Children’s Center broke ground for an additional facility now under construction in Smithfield, and they are expanding the Suffolk facility.

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Judith Hasty, the community relations coordinator for the Children’s Center, said construction totaling $977,225 is also under way.

&uot;We are adding new classrooms, therapy rooms and conference accommodations to the existing Suffolk Center located at 300 Executive Court on Wilroy Road,&uot; said Hasty. &uot;We are situated just across the road from the Industrial Park, and with this expansion completed, we’ll have the ability to serve 40 percent more children than we currently do. It will be about 7,000 square feet when completed and we will be able to serve 70 children then where we serve only 43 right now. We hope to have the Center expansion completed by April 2003.&uot;

Hasty also said the Center operates four Early Head Start Classrooms at P.D. Pruden Center in Suffolk.

The facility under construction in Smithfield will be a 2,400-foot structure within the Historic District of Smithfield at 240 James Street.

With the new Smithfield Center, the facility will be able to bring Early Head Start, early intervention and pediatric therapy services to the people of Smithfield.

The Center serves the Western Tidewater area, which includes Southampton County, Franklin, Isle of Wight County, and Suffolk. The Children’s Center anticipates completion of the Smithfield location in March 2003.

As Hasty said, the Center broke ground for the Suffolk expansion project Oct. 28th, but funding is still needed.

&uot;The Children’s Center has received more than $761,000 in funding toward these expansion projects, leaving $215,899 to be raised,&uot; she said. &uot;We are still in need of funding and anyone who would like to make a contribution is invited to call us at 562-6806.&uot;

The Children’s Center is a private, non-profit organization offering four core programs to families in Western Tidewater. Those programs include Early Intervention, Pediatric Therapy, Community Child Care, and Early Head Start.

Early Intervention offers a wide range of services to infants and toddlers with developmental delays and their families.

The Pediatric Therapy program provides certified speech, occupational and physical therapies to children from birth to age 21.

One important aspect of the Children’s Center, especially in light of news stories about babies being left on lawns and in locked cars, is the Community Child Care program. This offers licensed full and part-time child care 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at the &uot;Texie Camp Marks Center&uot; on Campbell Avenue, Franklin, and at the Suffolk Center.

The Children’s Center also operates the Western Tidewater Early Head Start program, said Hasty.

&uot;That program provides family-centered services to low-income pregnant women and families with children under the age of three,&uot; she said. &uot;Early Head Start is funded through the United States Department of Health and Human Services with 20 percent matching local funds to support the program.&uot;

The Commonwealth of Virginia awarded the Children’s Center state funds and grants to provide these needed services in Western Tidewater. This support has enabled the Children’s Center to continue offering these services through its early intervention program.

Hasty said the programs receive funding support in many ways from local, state, and federal governments, United Way, medical insurances, charitable contributions, bequeaths, and individual fees for services when applicable.