Closed – Peninsula Early Care and Education Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Rachel Nobel, Development Manager
Child and Family Opportunities, Inc.
P.O. Box 648, Ellsworth, ME 04605
DATE: May 28, 2015
TITLE: Farewell to the Peninsula Early Care and Education Center in Sedgwick
Ellsworth, Maine —
It is with sadness that Child and Family Opportunities is announcing the closure of the Peninsula Early Care and Education program located in the Sedgwick Elementary School. This center, in operation since 2008, celebrated its last day of the 2015 program year on May 15th and will not reopen in fall. The reasons stated for making this decision centered on a lack of demonstrated need for Head Start programming in the Sedgwick area. With only 6 children enrolled in the center in the 2015 program year, and a trend of declining enrollment in recent years, the agency made the decision to close the program.
“The reasons for this decision are multifaceted,” shared Doug Orville, Executive Director. “When we first entered into development of this program, there were very few options for early education for young children in the Blue Hill peninsula region. Since that time, many local schools have come to see the value of an investment in early education, and families in this area have more options that compete with this center. We think that is a very good thing for children and their families.”
The Peninsula Early Care and Education Center began as a community effort spearheaded by engaged members of the St. Francis of the Sea Episcopal Church and Child and Family Opportunities. The church members wanted to use their own community funds to invest in programming that would benefit local children and families. High quality early education was identified as the investment with the highest positive short and long-term results. The partnership forged between the St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, the Sedgwick Elementary school, and Child and Family Opportunities, became a strong example of the powers of community collaboration to meet local needs. After the initial funding of the program, the St. Francis Church continued to support the Sedgwick program through its partnership with Child and Family Opportunities at its yearly fundraising fair.
Child and Family Opportunities, a Head Start grantee in Hancock County since 1970, receives funding from Federal and State grants to run its programs, and is required to match federal funding with local support. Conditions of the Head Start grant require that the agency engage in yearly self-assessments to determine the areas of most need in its service area. This year, when it became clear the agency would need to shift its Head Start resources to follow community trends, Orville met with Don Buckingham, the principal of the Sedgwick School to discuss the need for change.
Buckingham commented, “Sedgwick Elementary School and the entire peninsula has benefitted tremendously from the presence of the PECEC in our community. Our school will seek alternatives to continue to offer high quality of early child education.” Buckingham has already been in discussion with stakeholders to look at different ways to provide for 3 and 4 year olds in the community.
“We are obligated to adjust our service model to meet the needs of our communities, and to respond to the changing models of early education in our schools. Yet it is definitely with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to this center and this community” Orville said. “We value the strong commitment to early education that this partnership has represented.”
Currently, Child and Family Opportunities provides high quality early care and education services in 9 communities in Washington and Hancock Counties. Programming includes Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care. The agency offers a full range of early childhood services for children and families including support and training opportunities for parents and caregivers to help them navigate challenges such as loss of work, furthering their education, and financial literacy. All children receive.