Yesterday (April 5) I had the privilege of attending the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the Chambersburg Early Learning Center at 871 Stanley Avenue, Chambersburg. First Start Partnership, in collaboration with the Chambersburg Area School District, has renovated the 20,000 square foot facility that was originally designed as a child care facility for the former “Stanley Company” in 1971. The importance of yesterday cannot be overstated as our expansion of high-quality early centers is directly proportional to the quality of our future workforce.
It is imperative for ALL of our children, especially those from infants-to-five years old, to be afforded the opportunity to fully develop their emotional and cognitive skills so that they are prepared to enter kindergarten on a level playing field with their peers. Failure to do so places them at a competitive disadvantage from which the vast majority simply cannot overcome. First Start Partnerships is providing the necessary leadership to ensuring that that our children will be better prepared to succeed. So, let me tell you about them in the words of Annette Searfoss, President & CEO of FSP.
First Start Partnerships for Children and Families
First Start Partnerships for Children and Families provides free, high quality early childhood education programs for 712 children from birth (and even pregnant mothers) to kindergarten entry across Franklin County. They partner with families, schools and communities to ensure each child arrives ready for kindergarten.
High quality early childhood education creates learning opportunities for young children in their critical brain development years. 90% of children’s brain connections occur by four years old, and 75% in the first year of life. Research shows that for every $1 invested in high quality early childhood education, there is a $13 return on investment, reducing the need for remedial education, decreasing crime, and increasing health outcomes.
First Start Partnerships began as Franklin County Head Start in 1965, but is now so much more than Head Start. Thanks to partner-ships with Franklin County school districts and funds from the Pre-K Counts state grants, almost 70% of Franklin County’s families qualify for preschool classes for children ages 3-5. Families with children ages 0-3 (and pregnant mothers) can enroll in an Early Head Start Home Visiting program, a year-round, weekly support for families in their homes. Early Head Start classrooms operate in Waynesboro year-round, with plans to expand into Chambersburg.
The Summit Endowment awarded First Start Partnerships a grant to create The Family Center at 871 Stanley Avenue. This Family Center will serve children and families to ensure each child arrives ready for kindergarten. The Center will operate six Pre-K Counts classrooms (5 ½ hours per day), one extended day Head Start classroom (up to 10 hours per day), and a newly developing Family Center. The Early Learning Center also offers a Children’s Library, Music and Art, a commercial kitchen, Staff Lounge, and expansive outdoor courtyard.
The Center will integrate with the Pennsylvania Family Centers and provide community services to help families become stronger, healthier, better educated, and more self-sufficient. These centers help parents and caregivers learn about their child’s development; access health care, education and training; and connect families with other community resources, such as well-baby care, immunizations, and Early Intervention. Because of these reasons, the FCADC has and always will be a strong advocate for early childhood education. For more information on First Start Partnerships, please contact Annette Searfoss, Ph.D., President and CEO at
717-263-8019, Ext 208 or firststartpartnerships.com.