Florence Fuller Child Development Center Successfully Provides A Pathway Out of Poverty
By Elizabeth R. Elstien
Forty-three years ago, the nonprofit Florence Fuller Child Development Center was begun in Boca Raton to fill a need for affordable child care for the city’s working poor. Although Boca Raton is overall a wealthy community, there are pockets of service industry workers who do not make a living wage. Staying home with their children or private daycare are both economic impossibilities. While at work, these families need assistance keeping their youngest kids frp, six weeks protected and learning during the day and the older kids up to 5th grade safe and busy when not in school.
Pearl City and Lincoln Court neighborhoods and the west’s primarily migrant workers are the areas of the city most in need of the organization’s services. For this reason, two centers are used (East and more rural West), to serve over 700 children each year. Director of Grants and Programs Anne McCudden says, “When a child attends Florence Fuller, they are not attending as a singular unit, they are attending as a family unit and, thus, improving and growing as a family.”
Notably, daycare is not all this nonprofit provides. McCudden tells us, “We differ from other non-profits in our ability to provide holistic childcare services which include not just schooling but health screenings, literacy training and behavioral services.” For instance, in 2013 the Family Support Program was begun to address the whole family unit. Dealing with a myriad of issues helps support the entire family with everything from résumé and job preparation to healthy eating and nutrition classes, along with housing, healthcare and domestic violence issues.
“We are very proud of our Family Support Program,” McCudden adds. To show the benefit of the program, she poses this question, “After all, what good is it to address a child’s developmental or behavioral issues at school if they are just going to go home into a household or family structure that may have issues itself?” McCudden has a point.
Recently, Florence Fuller added tutoring to its curriculum that significantly upped its young students’ scores. A main volunteer group designed very personalized and individualized studies for children who were really having a hard time comprehending their studies. McCudden states, “By adding a tutoring component to our curriculum, we were able to raise our student’s Kindergarten scores at from 79% to 97% at the East Center and from 82% to 90% at the West Center. By sending our children out into the school system “Kindergarten ready” we are helping both the student and the community, as they are that much more likely to succeed in all of their future endeavors.” Five stars to Florence Fuller for giving a fair and quality education to disadvantaged youngsters giving them a lift up in life.
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