March 31, 2011

Early Childhood Resource Center publishes 10th anniversary report

The Early Childhood Resource Center recently released its 10th anniversary report, which shares the center's history, as well as recent successes.

As noted in the report, in 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act created a fundamental shift in both the method and goal of federal cash assistance to the poor. Among the many outcomes, was an increase in Ohio mothers entering the workforce and additional demand for quality childcare. Simultaneously, new research in early childhood development indicated a direct link between strong, secure attachments to nurturing caregivers and a child’s ability to cope with the social, emotional and cognitive demands of adulthood. Additionally, evidence showed that early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain growth and development.

In response, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, which is dedicated to initiating systemic change to impact the root causes of poverty through areas including education, committed $1 million in 1998 to the Quality Child Care Initiative. Before distributing the funding, the foundation held community focus groups to discern specific areas of need and found that accreditation and professional development would most dramatically improve early education and care across Stark County. And, so the concept of a resource center to support individuals who work directly with young children began to take shape.

With a generous gift from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, the Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC) in Canton, Ohio was established in March 2000 as a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. The health system is a nonprofit organization that carries out the ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine by providing oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and Columbia, South Carolina.

The establishment of ECRC included the creation of comprehensive training programs for early education and care centers and family child care providers, including the Child Development Associate credentialing program, mentoring services, leadership training, business training, accreditation consultation and other forms of technical assistance. The facility was set up to include a satellite site of the Stark County District Library with a specialized collection of books and resources, a state-of-the-art product ion lab and a training facility.

In the decade since, the ECRC has exceeded many goals and grown dramatically through its wide spectrum of programs, support services and staff. Recognized as innovators in early education and care, ECRC staff members have participated in committees and workgroups to inform policy and develop guides such as the Core Knowledge and Competencies and the Infant Toddler Guidelines.

In 2009, the ECRC launched a capital campaign to purchase and renovate a new facility. Thanks to an outpouring of community support, the new center officially opened its doors on February 22, 2011. The new ECRC facility features an expanded library and production lab; a larger, state-of the-art-classroom; and the addition of new resources, including an Inspiration Station, networking lounge, second classroom and an educational retail store.

Throughout the past ten years, the ECRC has been blessed to receive financial support from foundations, government agencies, corporations and individual donors who believe that investments made in the early years greatly impact the future of the community it serves.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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