Bloomingdale Family Program 2
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Time-tested program with leadership opportunities for parents
Limited to low-income families
Children in the Bloomingdale Family Program raise butterflies, tend ant farms and take nature walks in Central Park with binoculars. This respected bilingual Spanish-English program has been popular for decades among a network of families and friends.
Children are lovingly supported here. Most are native Spanish speakers and about 40 percent have special needs. They have access to play therapy, bilingual speech therapy and other supports. Those at risk of falling behind may return to Bloomingdale through 3rd grade for free homework help.
Activities stem from childrens' interests rather than a scripted program, said Education Director Marilyn Barnwell, who has been with Bloomingdale for almost five decades. Teachers are certified by HighScope, a respected early childhood program. This approach, and its implementation is, "harder, but we don't mind harder," Barnwell said proudly.
Founded in 1960 in a church basement by parent volunteers, Bloomingdale now serves 157 children in three early childhood centers within a three-block radius. It served as a model in the formation of the Head Start program in the 1960s. Parent education is a key component. More than half of Bloomingdale's staff began their association with the program as parents, including Executive Director Jose Velilla.
One downside: Classrooms lack windows and there is no outdoor play area at this site, but it's an easy walk to Central Park or one of the other locations.
Admissions: Preference to low-income families. Extra hours offered for $15/day until 6 pm. (Lydie Raschka, August 2015)Read more