5.10 2018

From Piling Scrap to Bridging the Achievement Gap

By Carolyn Christmann
New Haven Independent

In the 1960s, as the site of the Schiavone scrap yard, iron, steel and cranes filled the acres between Front Street and the Quinnipiac River. Decades later, the once-derelict land has become a riverside park, and every spring a new generation of Schiavone helps fill it with fun, community and a great cause. Each May, the Friends Center for Children, led by director Allyx Schiavone, partners with Elm City Montessori School to throw a massive party in the park with a mission to promote high-quality early childhood education.

In its 8th year, the annual Fair Haven Family Stroll & Festival continues to grow in size and impact. This year, more than a thousand people joined the festivities, which raised more than $15,000 to increase awareness and access to developmentally-appropriate early care and education.

“This festival is about honoring the need for high-quality early care and education for all children in our community,” said Schiavone. “Providing access to high-quality early childhood programs for families of all economic levels is critical for addressing New Haven’s drastic achievement gap. And it’s critical to start early. Ninety percent of all brain development occurs before the age of five! Ninety percent! The impact of high-quality early care and education on the individual and the community is huge. For every dollar we invest in early childhood education, we see a $7-$13 return. We also see decreased drop out rates, decreased juvenile detention rates, decreased teen pregnancy rates, increased college graduation rates and earning potential — all from attending high-quality early care and education programs. Those of us who work to make the Fair Haven Family Stroll and Festival happen see the importance of this investment.”