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What Shapes Us?

When we think about the essential question, “What Shapes Us?,” some of the most powerful influences come from the systems around us. Unfortunately, when it comes to early childhood education, New Haven’s system is broken. Families pay too much, educators make too little, providers can barely survive and children are caught in the resulting dysfunction.


Early Ed Advocates Call For State $ Bump

By Thomas Breen
New Haven Independent

A Connecticut-wide coalition of child care providers and advocates has stepped up its call for state government to increase funding for an industry in ​“crisis” because the demand from families far exceeds the supply of educators.

That was the key takeaway from a Zoom-assisted online press conference hosted Tuesday morning by the group Child Care for Connecticut’s Future.

The cause for the presser was the recent publication of poll results from a survey that was commissioned by the child care advocacy organization and that collected feedback from 946 registered Connecticut voters from Sept. 23 through Oct. 3.

According to the presenters at Tuesday’s press conference — which included Friends Center for Children Executive Director Allyx Schiavone, All Our Kin CT Early Care and Education Policy Fellow Jade Thomas, and Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay, among others — the survey found that a majority of those polled support an increase in state government aid for the early education and child care industry.

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Property Sales Roundup: Early Ed Center Expands

By Thomas Breen
New Haven Independent

A Fair Haven Heights-based early childhood education nonprofit continued its citywide expansion by purchasing two adjacent commercial buildings in Westville Village for $1.995 million.

That was one of the latest local property transactions, as recorded on New Haven’s online land records database. (See below for a full roundup of recent city property sales.)

On Aug. 31, the Friends Center for Children Inc. purchased the two-story, four-unit office building at 881 Whalley Ave. and the single-story, four-unit retail building at 883 Whalley Ave. from 881 Whalley LLC for $1.995 million.

That two-building, 0.55-acre property last sold for $343,688 in 2019. The city last appraised it as worth $1,557,100.

The seller of the property is an affiliate of the local megalandlord Ocean Management, while the new owner is a Quaker-influenced early childhood education program that currently operates out of locations on East Grand Avenue and Blake Street. 

This latest purchase comes less than a month after the Friends Center bought the now-closed former Ciné 4 movie theater property at 371 Middletown Ave. / 25 Flint St. for $1.3 million — with plans to convert that 1.93-acre site into a bustling campus for affordable early childhood education. It also comes as the Friends Center plans to open yet another childcare center at the future Dixwell Plaza redevelopment to be built by ConnCORP.

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Cine-4 Closes, Becoming Early Ed Campus

By Thomas Breen
New Haven Independent

The lights are off and the popcorn’s all gone from a decades-old independent movie theater on Middletown Avenue — which new nonprofit owners aim to convert to a bustling campus for affordable early childhood education.

Those are the latest developments with the Ciné 4 movie theater property at 371 Middletown Ave. / 25 Flint St. in Quinnipiac Meadows near the North Haven border. The theater showed its last films last week, screening Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris, Where the Crawdads Sing, My Donkey, My Lover & I and Elvis.

According to the city’s online land records database, on Aug. 5, the Friends Center for Children Inc. purchased the 1.93-acre parking lot-and-movie theater property from Soffer Associates for $1.3 million. The city last appraised the property as worth $1,070,900.

The property’s new owner — a Fair Haven Heights-based, Quaker-influenced early childhood education program — plans to transform the former movie theater site into offices, classrooms, a library, and outdoor play spaces for young children and childcare providers. They also plan on preserving one of the theater’s four screening rooms as a community space for watching movies. (See below for more details on the Friends Center’s plans.)

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