9.25 2021

“Let’s Talk” series welcomes Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro as inaugural speaker

On September 15, Friends Center welcomed Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro as the inaugural speaker of our 2021-2022 Let’s Talk! virtual series of discussions about the federal, state and city advocacy and planning around early childhood education infrastructure and sustainability and the implications on children, families and society.

116 people joined the live conversation!

Please click on the link below to view this important discussion, where Rosa reminds us all the time is NOW to and make our voices heard to ensure the Child Tax Act and universal pre-K become permanent social security measures for our families and children.

 

 

Watch the Conversation
2.19 2021

Not (just) a Season of Lovingkindness

Isn’t this the month of hearts and flowers? The month of Black history? But what if U.S. history were a story rendered honestly that we could reckon with throughout our whole schooling and lifetime? And what if lovingkindness is not just a sentiment, but a practice that we intentionally weave into our every day?

At Friends Center, rather than designate particular days or months for celebrations, we aim to create an environment where, every day, each member of the community is held with respect. We work to cultivate a climate where we notice the biases we feel, see, hear and act, and address them with each other in a brave, clear and kind way. We seek to learn how we unknowingly participate in systemic patterns of inequities, and how we can meet the challenges of undoing them. This is the position from which lovingkindness flows.

Read more on our email newsletter
1.21 2021

Friends Center for Children Launches Free Teacher Housing Initiative

By Maggie Prendergast

Long before the pandemic struck, Friends Center for Children had been wrestling with the issue of inadequate compensation for infant and preschool teachers. One potential solution, a Friends Center Teacher Housing Initiative, captured the attention of two long-time FCfC supporters, Greg Melville, a member of New Haven Friends Meeting, and his wife, Susan Fox, who pledged $750,000 to purchase two homes in New Haven to provide free housing to an initial group of Friends Center teachers.

“We consider early childhood educators to be ‘essential workers’ and key to the healthy development of the next generation, and we know that most do not earn enough from their teaching job to afford to live in New Haven,” said Fox and Melville. “By helping to provide FCfC teachers with safe, affordable housing, we hope to further a model of innovative housing solutions equal to the Center’s bold, educational vision,” they noted.

Both of the houses are within walking distance of Friends Center’s East Grand site, with one offering single family living and the other multi-family capacity. One teacher and her young son joyfully moved into her new multi-family home at the end of December 2020. The other teacher happily followed shortly thereafter. The third unit will house another teacher and her young son in May. The second home, a single family dwelling, provides housing for a teacher and her two children who moved in mid-January. Both properties have been updated and made comfortable and safe for their new and extraordinarily grateful occupants. A second phase of this program hopes to create 12-19 additional teacher housing units when funding becomes available.

The Friends Center Teacher Housing Initiative offers rent-free housing to Friends Center teachers whose situations warrant this help. These teachers use rent savings to pay off school or personal loans and work toward financial independence. Friends Center provides fiscal coaching and goal setting for its teacher tenants, who can live rent free from one to five years depending on need.

Allyx Schiavone, executive director of Friends Center, explains, “Providing free housing to our teachers is not a bonus or a privilege. It is our attempt to counterbalance a system designed to marginalize an under-resourced and overburdened industry. We believe that bold measures are needed to change the status quo. We are exceptionally grateful that the Melvilles see the true value of early care and education teachers and are willing to work with us creatively to improve the model of compensation.”

Friends Center for Children is an independent early childhood education center in New Haven serving children from three months to five years old. Founded in 2007 by members of the New Haven Friends Meeting to address the critical shortage in high-quality early childhood education opportunities. FCfC currently serves 122 infant and preschool children in two New Haven locations, with multiple additional sites in the planning stage. FCfC families and teachers are representative of New Haven’s communities and cross all racial, ethnic and income spectrums.

For more information, contact: Tanya Shively (tshively@friendscenterforchildren.org; (203.468.1966) to schedule a meeting with Allyx Schiavone, Executive Director of Friends Center for Children.

Friends Center teacher Kristen Calderon and her son enjoy new proximity to work and river views in their Front Street apartment, one of three units that will offer teachers rent-free housing as a part of Friend Center’s teacher Housing Plan. Photo by Ian Christmann

 

One of Friends Center’s first teacher houses — a picture-perfect single family on Howard Street — will soon be a rent-free home to a preschool teacher and her family as part of Friend Center’s teacher Housing Plan— an innovative solution to provide much-needed increases in teacher compensation without increasing tuition costs for high-quality early childhood care. Photos by Ian Christmann

BACKGROUND INFORMATION Friends Center for Children

Friends Center for Children’s core mission is: Educate Children, Empower Families, Inspire Teachers, Engage Community, Embrace Diversity. The program provides high-quality early childhood education to children who represent New Haven’s diverse communities; families are drawn from all racial, ethnic and income spectrums. Friends Center utilizes a sliding scale tuition system. Parents pay 12% of their gross income, capped at the true cost of care. Annual expenses exceed annual income by an average of $220,000 a year, which limits the program’s ability to raise teacher salaries to pay parity with elementary public-school teachers, a long- standing goal of the program.

Early Childhood Educators

Early childhood educators, 98 percent of whom are female, are among the front-line workers who are egregiously under compensated. The average yearly salary of early childhood teachers is $28,000 for infant/toddler caregivers and $39,000 for preschool teachers, well below the cost of living. These essential workers’ salaries belie the importance of early childhood education and further marginalize an already oft-marginalized population. Subsidized housing is a first step in helping to acknowledge the importance and value of these teachers.

The true cost of high-quality care in New Haven is $23,000 for infants/toddlers and $16,000 for preschool. Through a variety of programs, the state of Connecticut subsidizes these programs at 50% of the true cost of care, and this gap shifts the balance of program cost onto families. Since most New Haven families are unable to pay actual costs, these early childhood programs operate at 50% of true cost. As a result, early childhood education teacher salaries are significantly underfunded. If fiscal value determined industry norms, state funding would match the true cost of care, and these teachers would not be grossly undervalued – and underpaid.

“The Early Care and Education Funding System is sexist, racist and broken. We ask women, predominantly black and brown women, to care for and educate the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society, and we compensate them at levels that perpetuate poverty.”

Allyx Schiavone

1.11 2021

What is essential?

For many, the question of “what is essential?” has provoked new examination and appreciation of the things and people we rely on. At Friends Center, teachers are essential! To prove it, we exceed industry norms for compensation.* Paying women to live in poverty does not do justice to the importance of early childhood education. In fact, it undermines the essential role that educators play in a child’s early life. We believe we must do more to promote the fiscal livelihood of our teachers.

Read more in our January e-newsletter
11.11 2020

Where do you stand?

When it comes to vision, perspective is determined by where you stand. How we see and interpret scenes or events depends on the angle, distance and the obstructions that may block our view. The same truth applies to more abstract outlooks and ideologies. When we understand our individual positions, privileges and challenges we begin to understand how they influence our perspective. And we recognize that we may need to move from positions that are familiar or comfortable in order to truly obtain a different point of view.

In 2017, Friends Center began an intentional exploration into implicit biases — the lenses or angles by which we see the world — and how they impact our thoughts and behaviors.

This past year, events in our nation forced us all to examine our stance in new and challenging ways. COVID-19 altered our lives and communities, and caused us to reconsider what is essential. The appalling deaths of fellow black and brown citizens re-exposed historic and systemic racial injustices that must be addressed. 

In both cases, we all have been called to action — to take a stand, or take steps to shift our posture in order to truly see, understand and value another’s experience and outlook.

During these trying times, we will continue to rise to the call and move to action, working to ensure that we stand fast to our mission: educate children, empower families, inspire teachers, engage community, embrace diversity.

READ OUR 2020 COMMUNITY REPORT
6.12 2020

…what actions will speak louder than words?

Dear members of our Friends Center Community,

How do we give a name to this moment that grips our awareness, causes deep pain and stifles our breath?

Recent appalling, grievous deaths of black and brown countrymen and women follow 400 years of innumerable systematic racial injustices, as well as religious and gender identity persecutions.

“I can’t breathe!” may be the words that unforgettably mark 2020.
 

To face COVID-19, we’ve muffled our voices with masks. At the same moment in time, ongoing protests, lit up by immediate video documentation of the suffocation of George Floyd, has un-muffled the voices crying out for justice. The volume is so high, the streets are vibrating. And burning.

What shall we say; to whom shall we say it; and, what actions will speak louder than words? How do we choose words, tone, volume and actions that can awaken hardened hearts?

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” These words from 1881, spoken by Jane Addams (raised a Quaker, first woman recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace), touch the heart.

May we lean into each other, virtually, to muster the energy and courage to let our one precious life speak our values.

With love, empathy and righteous anger,

Friends Center for Children

Read more about Friends Center’s commitment to racial equality, and related resources, in our recent community letter.

6.26 2020

Week 15: staying connected during social distancing

6.19 2020

Week 14: staying connected during social distancing

Dear Families,

“Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.”

Óscar Romero

In the attached pdf, please find resources, links, and reflections on the Quaker value of Peace.

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Quick Links:

Juneteenth marks the end of slavery. Here’s what happened and how to celebrate June 19, 2020
Viral child stars reunite: Two children from a heartwarming viral video catch up with each other over video. Former Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey shares a message to children of color.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Teaching Juneteenth: The history of Juneteenth acknowledges hard history while also empowering students to be advocates for change
Black Boy Joy: 30 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists
Too Much Alone Time? Tips To Connect And Find Joy While Social Distancing

 

6.12 2020

Week 13: staying connected during social distancing

Dear Families,

We hope that this letter finds you healthy, safe and strong.  We hope that you feel empowered, seen and heard. We hope that when you leave your front door each day, you walk confidently into the world, feeling valued and loved. We hope that your days are filled with light and love, and that if it is not coming from anywhere else, you can feel it coming from us.    

In the attached pdf, please find resources, links, and reflections on the Quaker value of Community.

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Quick links:

New Videos Up on The FCfC YouTube Channel Here
12-year-old uses voice to share powerful message on racism
How to Explain Racism to Kids
Abby Cadabby Shares a Personal Story
Resources For Non-Black Folks to Self Educate & Practice Direct Action: A Working List provided by MBooth’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Books & Tips for Talking With Children About Race
Condoleezza Rice discusses race on “Face the Nation,” June 7, 2020
A Mindful Approach to Race and Social Justice | Rhonda Magee, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Anderson Cooper

              

 

6.5 2020

Week 12: staying connected during social distancing

Dear Families,

“Sometimes our hearts feel heavy and the world feels wrong. 

Find the light, even if it is ever so slight. 

Hold on, let hope build a trail for the next steps. Surround ourselves with love, together our light shines stronger, the glimmer of hope is solid. Together we can step… one step… two steps… three steps. 

We see your light, we hear your words, we see you. We love and miss you.”

–  Therese Luetzgendorf

In the attached pdf, please find resources, links, and reflections on the Quaker value of Stewardship.

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Quick links for resources:

Fifth Grade Children Talk About Segregation
Sing With Us | The Children’s March: Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
How to Talk to Kids About Race
PBS KIDS Talk About | BRAVERY & COURAGE
Elm City Montessori School Children’s March Flyer
10 Tips for Teaching and Talking to Kids about Race
Ways to Demonstrate Solidarity
ERP Recommended Resources Related to COVID-19 Experience
Downloadable Developmentally Appropriate Short Story about Mask Use
Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared! Printable Coronavirus Coloring Page
Ignite | 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene
From Constant Love and Learning – List of Feelings “Scavenger Hunt” Questions
Calm Together: Global Meditation Event