"It's an amazing facility," said Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI5) during a recent tour of the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) located in the William S. White Building on the campus of UM-Flint.
Congressman Kildee visited the center to get a better understanding of how it is utilized, and some of the federal grants it has received. The ECDC is the only nationally accredited birth-to-age 12 program in Genesee County. There are more than 125 children who are served at the center in a variety of programs. About 60% of them are from the community, the rest are children of students, faculty, and staff. There is a long waiting list for families seeking 2-years and younger child care.
The ECDC director Della Becker-Cornell explained to Congressman Kildee that they use a method of teaching developed in Italy. "We are a Reggio-inspired program that views all children as capable and competent. We are changing the path of education with each child and family we encounter."
Kildee was shown how the center is more than just a childcare facility, but also serves as a learning center for UM-Flint students and provides research platforms for faculty. Faculty and staff often attend meetings and seminars to share their findings with other childhood development centers.
Kildee's tour included a chance to meet with the 32 youngsters in the Great Start Readiness Program, which is also housed in the White Building. Great Start is a state-funded program that prepares youngsters from underserved areas to enter elementary school. A unique portion of the program includes teachers making home visits.
Kildee said he wanted to assist the center when it sought additional federal funding for programs.