Education Matters: Lighthouse for Children

FRESNO COUNTY, California - It’s called the lighthouse, and those who work with children will tell you it is more than a nice looking building located in downtown Fresno.
“The Lighthouse for Children’s facility was planned, designed and built to be a space where young children and families are prioritized and supported,” Executive Director Emilia Reyes said.
And First Five Fresno County is not alone in this mission – not alone in this space.
“First Five Fresno County, the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools – this is a joint effort this isn’t one or the other. It’s both of us doing the right thing for our community and that’s helping our children,” Superintendent Jim Yovino said.
The Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Early Childhood Development Center is located on the first floor, and it is no ordinary pre-school program.
Yes, there are learning programs here for infants as young as 6 weeks old. Yovino says that’s because research shows that a child’s health and learning starts before birth.
“Now we know this – it’s about healthy mothers; it’s about a healthy child and starting really early,” Yovino said.
The Early Childhood Development Center is designed to be a model for others around the state. It provides space for kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds, kids with disabilities and offers a dual language program.
It is also a teaching tool – an innovative lab for college students wanting to go into the profession.
“I really like the center because it’s something I want to go into; it like my field – so being in this setting really allows me to get my foot in the door and see like and what I’m expected to do, Fresno State student Katia Farias said.
It’s another one of those partnerships with institutions that support early childhood education.
Fresno State’s Dr. Cathy Yun says it gives their students the opportunity to work in one of the highest quality centers in the Valley.
“It gives them a really important opportunity to apply the theory, and the research that they are learning in their course work to actual classroom practices,” Yun said.
First Five says the Lighthouse for Children was designed to be a hub of services. Several different community organizations also offer programs under one roof. Services like parent workshops, nutritional workshops, pre-natal care – all this after only one year.
A celebration of its first year of operation, it’s first pre-school graduation. Yovino says it’s a great start.
He said, “We wanted every child – any child that lives in Fresno County to have the opportunity to be in a high quality, highly effective pre school program, and I can tell you we are on our way in Fresno County.”

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