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
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

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.

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.

5.15 2020

Week nine: staying connected during social distance

Dear community,

We invite you to enjoy the 9th edition of our weekly blog/letter (nine weeks…wow!). In this blog you will find some fun podcasts and videos that are geared toward young children, inspiring educational articles, helpful resources for you and your family, a letter from our EWBC Team, and an encouraging call to just…breathe. We hope that you continue to find these resources helpful, and valuable. You are loved, and missed.


Quick links to resources:

Noodle Loaf: 10-minute episodes of interactive music creation and goofiness
Peace Out – Relaxation Stories for Kids

Musical videos for:
Infants Hey Bear Sensory – Classical Music/High Contrast Video
Toddlers – “Emotions” – StoryBots Super Songs Episode 8 | Netflix Jr
Preschoolers –  “The Goldfish” (Let’s Go Swimming) by the Laurie Berkner Band
Nature Inspired Art
Find More Ideas Like This Here
Literacy – Self Portraits
Find More Ideas Like This Here
Science & Sensory
Find More Ideas Like This Here
Imaginative Play
Find More Ideas Like This Here
How to Create Highly Effective Transitions
Free Books for Kids Helping Children Read to Succeed
Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer
East Grand Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation Project Update
Home – Day 3 – Recognize | 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene

5.8 2020

Week eight: staying connected during social distance

Dear Community,

We hope that this post finds you healthy, safe and well. We realize the incredible strain that social distancing is putting each of us, individually and collectively. Whether you are out on the front lines, balancing work and family responsibilities from home, are currently out of work, or are simply just trying to navigate this unprecedented time while keeping your head above water, please know that we are here for you, and with you. When we are in community, physically, visually, or within our hearts and minds, we are never alone. You are our community, and we thank you for being here with us.

In the attached pdf, please find activities, resources and information including a read-aloud of Clementina’s Castle, Building Babies Brains through play master class, and the Role of Play in Any Setting.


Quick links to resources:

New Videos Up on The FCfC YouTube Channel Here
Read-aloud: Clementina’s Cactus
Building Babies’ Brains Through Play: Mini Parenting Master Class
Child Development Core Story
Find Ways to Play -Explore Fun and Educational Activities for the Whole Family
Visit the COVID-19 Resources page
Diverse BookFinder
Connecticut Health I-team Children And Parents Feel The Strain Of Confinement
Stress and Resilience: How Toxic Stress Affects Us, and What We Can Do About It
Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting
City of New Haven Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hub
Home – Day 2 – Recognize | 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene

5.1 2020

Week seven: staying connected during social distance

Dear Community,

We are coming to the end of our seventh week in collective “quarantine”, and find that we are needing one another more than ever. As the ties that bind us to one another continue to stretch, we work even more diligently to mend and repair the frays, in hopes that we will emerge with bonds that have strengthened and endured. We continue to research and test available technologies to keep our connections flowing and flourishing, and we thank you for your participation, your patience, and your continued partnership. 

In the attached pdf, please find activities, resources and information including At-Home Activities, Healthy at Home Toolkit and Keeping Connected with Families podcast.


New Videos Up on The FCfC YouTube Channel
Making Space: Mood – with Author & Illustrator Christian Robinson
Dr. Marc Brackett and Brené Brown on “Permission to Feel”
At Home Activities for Infants
At Home Activities for Toddlers
At Home Activities for Preschoolers
Healthy at Home: A Toolkit for Supporting Families   Impacted by COVID-19
Podcast: Keeping Connected With Families During COVID-19
Virtual Teaching 101 for Early Childhood Educators
ECE Professionals Slack Group
Talk It Out Hotline Information
CTCARES for Frontline Workers Child Care Subsidy Program
Diverse BookFinder
Home – Day 1 – Recognize | 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene

4.24 2020

Week six: staying connected during social distance

Dear community,

We hope that you continue to be healthy, safe and well. As we continue to experience distance, from one another, our routines, our communities, we hope that, more than anything, you are continuing to experience your worth. You are so loved and missed.

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”-Fred Rogers

In the attached pdf, please find activities, resources and information including Sesame Workshop, Reggio Inspired Math, COVID-19 testing sites, and how-tos for cultivating the Quaker value of STEWARDSHIP.


Quicklinks to resources:

4.17 2020

Week five: staying connected during social distance

Dear community,

May you continue to reach deep into the wells of inspiration and hope that live within, and discover an abundant source of light to guide you through your days. We hope that you continue to use this Newsletter as a source of positivity, and find the same joy that we do in our continued connections here and throughout the efforts of our amazingly, dedicated community. We thank you again, for all of the wonderful photos, videos, and communications being offered through ClassDojo and ZOOM Meetings. Seeing the children and hearing updates from you is truly a joy. We are wishing you all the very best!

In the attached pdf, please find activities for children and adults (including links to free science experiments), awareness resources (including Clifford Beers Clinic COVID Compassion Line), and information on emotional wellbeing, specifically on cultivating the Quaker value of COMMUNITY.


Resources include:

NPR: Why Narratives are Powerful for Children
Little Scientists: Free Science experiments
New Videos Up on The FCfC YouTube Channel
The ABCDE’s of Family Climate
Clifford Beers Clinic COVID Compassion Line
Free Grab & Go School Meals
Tenants are Given 60 Day Grace Period to Pay Rent
DOL says unemployment payment backlog solved by computer fix
Discussing and Supporting Social Emotional needs during COVID-19 released by CT SDE
Your Productivity Doesn’t Determine Your Worth
Emotions at Home – How do we Want to Feel?

4.10 2020

Week four: staying connected during social distance

Dear community,

We reach out in hopes of your continued safety and well-being. Spring continues to bloom all around us, bringing the anticipation of brighter days ahead. We hope that you find time to get outdoors, safely and responsibly. May you continue to breathe, and take in the small gifts that nature presents; a warm ray of sunlight through a window, a faint, fragrant breeze, the chirping of a robin or chittering of a squirrel, the rustling of branches as they prepare for new life. We hope that you continue to find joy and light in each coming day, and look forward to reuniting with you all as soon as possible.

In the pdfs below, please find activities for children and adults (including Week of the Young Child Daily Themes), awareness resources, mindfulness moments (such as “going on a mindfulness safari”), and information on emotional wellbeing, specifically on cultivating the Quaker value of EQUALITY.


Resources include:
New Videos Up on The Friends Center for Children YouTube Channel!
“I’m a little seed” by Nicole from Preschool 1
“The Carrot Seed” by Ruth Krauss read by Jan from Pod 4
Pepper and Soap experiment showing the importance of washing hands
Mindfulness Poses
Week of The Young Child – Overview and Daily Themes
Acoustic Mornings with Papa Tom
The FCfC COVID Emergency Fund – En Inglés y Español
The Disproportionate Racial Impact of COVID-19
Local Mental Health Resources
Explore Healthy Lives CT for Free Wellness Assessments and Resources
Mindfulness Safari
14 Mindfulness Tricks to Reduce Anxiety