my information

--- Issued March 13, 2008

The Erie Housing Authority’s new childcare center is now open.

The Authority joined with Early Connections, Inc., to open the new center in Harbor Homes at the Marsha Ann Hall Learning Center, 1841 East 18th Street.

Present at a December 6 ribbon cutting for the Authority’s new childcare
center were, back row, John Horan; Agnes Priscaro; children’s mothers
Muna Al-Harbi, and Shukriah Al-Saadi; Nancy Kalista, executive director
of Early Connections; and Early Connections Board Member Colleen
Dixon. Children shown are, from left, Ala Marsing, Mohammad Al-Harbi,
and Hussien Al-Harbi.

The “Early Connections Harbor Homes Early Learning Center” offers a pre-K program and childcare. The center offers Pennsylvania-Licensed childcare services for up to 30 children ages 6 weeks to 6 years.

The pre-K program provides pre-kindergarten education for 17 children ages three and four with classes at the center from 9 a.m. until noon, Mondays through Fridays. The pre-K program is entirely funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and is offered free of charge to residents.

“We made a space available because we realize that safe, affordable childcare is one of the main barriers to low income families becoming economically self-sufficient,” said John E. Horan, executive director of the Erie Housing Authority. “The more convenient we make childcare, the more likely it is that the head of the household will be able to complete an education or job training and successfully seek, obtain, and maintain employment.”

Early Connections Harbor Homes Learning Center offers infant, toddler and preschool childcare, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

“The pre-K component of our new center is equally important,” Horan said. “The early years are a time of enormous growth -- physically, mentally and emotionally. Quality pre-K programs help children reach their full potential. Studies have found that children who attend preschool are less likely to need special education services, less likely to repeat grades, less likely to have behavioral problems once they enter school, more likely to read and write well, more likely to score higher on tests, and more likely to graduate from high school – thus, they are more likely to find good employment and become self-sufficient.”

Courtney Tirak, director of the new center, said the facility complies with state standards for early learning through its partnering with the Authority and the Erie School District. “We offer a pre-school program that gets our students ready for kindergarten with activities in literacy, math, science, art, and music and movement.”

Games and fun activities are used, for instance, to teach letter learning and recognition for literacy; counting and recognizing numbers for math; and nature, weather, and experiments for science.

“I’m 35 years old, and kids in pre-school today are learning all that I learned in kindergarten, Tirak said. “Kindergarten today is what first grade used to be. Our goal is also to have children learn the social and behavioral skills necessary to move right into kindergarten.”

Anyone having questions or wanting to enroll in either the pre-K program or for childcare should contact Courtney Tirak at 454-9713 or 899-2425.