What Parents Say About Club Fed...
"When we first found out my baby’s daycare was closing, after being open for over 30 years, I was crushed. She’d been there only a year, since I returned to work when she was six months old. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but the center was in my building and allowed me to take my daughter out during my lunch hour and check in with her throughout the day. The staff, who was friendly, but not particularly motivated or educated, provided adequate care during the day. I accepted the trade-off, because I so treasured those extra memories with her, introducing her to the joys of pigeon-chasing, her first snowfall and visits to a nearby candy store. I convinced myself the center’s mediocrity would be balanced by the additional time we were able to spend together.
"After a difficult acceptance period, we began the search for a new daycare. I visited several and left discouraged each time, knowing we were coming up against a looming deadline. One kept the kids behind closed classroom doors and offered no outside time. Another was dirty, staffed by workers who wouldn’t even look me in the eyes when they spoke to me, and seemed to want to rush me out of the meeting. I considered taking a leave of absence. I just couldn’t envision my daughter, for whom I’d developed so many far-reaching hopes and dreams, thriving in such environments.
"Thankfully, and I mean that literally and sincerely, I remembered a coworker telling me her daughter was attending Club Fed, and they both loved it. I had initially dismissed the idea, because I loved having my baby in the same building, and wasn’t ready to make that kind of transition. Now that we were under the gun, I gave this Club Fed a second thought. I called and made an appointment to visit. I’ll never forget how blown away I was when I first walked in the door.
"The center, despite being in “the basement,” was bright and colorful and clean. Large floor-to-ceiling windows offered me views into every classroom, letting me observe what the kids were doing at all stages of development. The kids looked happy and active; the teachers (not daycare workers here… teachers) were involved and engaging and alert. I met in a classroom with Victory, whose enthusiasm for what she does, for the kids, and for her staff, overwhelmed and inspired me. A part of me wanted to go back in time, enroll, and get a fresh, new start on my life! I felt that strongly that this place could do that for the children in their care: helping to teach, mold, and develop them into confident, intelligent, creative, thoughtful little people who would eventually grow into similarly accomplished big people. If I couldn’t have this for myself, I absolutely wanted it for my daughter.
Oh, but the waiting list!
"I harassed Victory and Sima with phone calls and update requests. I never let them forget who we were. I was going to be sure that my daughter would have a spot in this amazing place. And finally, she did. A little over a year after learning how to leave my little baby alone for long periods of the day with complete strangers, I had to do it all over again. I worried about how she’d adjust (I’m new at this; I didn’t know I should have been worrying more about my adjustment and less about hers.), and whether she’d miss me. I’m sure I missed her far more. For a few weeks after her first day, I made the long walk from work to visit with her, only to soon realize she didn’t really need that from me. She was safe; she was happy. And she was in very good hands.
"It’s been three years since that first day at Club Fed, and my soon-to-be-Kindergartener is a very happy, well-adjusted, intelligent, confident, outgoing little girl. She’s always loved her teachers at Club Fed and has made amazing friendships that are continuing outside of school. Soon after Paislee first started at Club Fed, we stopped calling it daycare. The term just wasn’t sufficient. We began calling it Baby School. At every stage, she learned. I never felt she was just taking up space and waiting for the day to end. Even at very young ages, the kids are involved in projects and special curriculums that focus on a variety of topics, a solid educational foundation that she will be able to continue to build on as she enters elementary school this year, and beyond.
"Every week, my daughter would sit in her car seat on the way home and amaze me with some new thing she knew, far beyond what I would expect her to be able to grasp at her age. Alone, I never could have offered her the kind of toddler education she’s received at Club Fed. When she knew her colors, named her letters, sounded out a word… it all has exceeded our wildest expectations of what to expect from a “daycare.” We could not be happier.
"Victory, at the helm, is passionate about what she does, and she expects the same from her teachers. Any concerns or issues we’ve brought up have always been immediately addressed by Victory and whichever other staff members were appropriate. I’ve always felt heard and appreciated, as a parent of a Club Fed kid. She cares intensely about the quality of care and education her kids receive at Club Fed. Paislee’s teachers are caring, qualified educators of small children, and we were able to count on consistency throughout Paislee’s time there, due to such a low turnover rate -- something we didn’t experience at her previous daycare. Parents are always welcome to visit and chaperone fields trips, a benefit I took advantage of each and every time. I will miss those rooms -- the windows full of little smiling faces when I pick Paislee up, stepping over the “lakes” in the hallway on our way in each morning, perusing the gallery of glittery projects papering the walls, and the friendly “Have a good night” from Paislee’s beloved teachers at the end of each day. I will probably miss Club Fed more than my daughter who, at four-and-a-half, is really good at transitions.
"Or maybe it’s just a mom’s melancholy surfacing three weeks away from the first day of kindergarten.
"A look toward the future: At Paislee’s kindergarten screening, when we mentioned Club Fed, we received an understanding nod of the head and an encouraging, “Oh, she’s all ready, then!” That was the best confirmation we could have hoped for those long three years ago, desperately searching for a place to help our child grow into the person we know she can be.
- Lori (Paislee’s proud mom)
What Our Community Says About Club Fed...
"Over the past few years, early childhood education has undergone an extraordinary transformation. The unprecedented government focus on early learning and the communities efforts to support the State’s quality improvement system, QUALITYstarsNY has brought great attention to the care and education of young children.
"Club Fed, however, has a long tradition of focusing on high quality programming for children and families. The center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, meeting and maintaining the highest benchmark for quality in the Nation. Teachers and Administrators at the program have also participated in QUALITYstarsNY; demonstrating a commitment to continuous quality improvement.
"In short, the folks at Club Fed understand that the early years matter. They understand that their work is about supporting individual children. Children who practice their architectural skills in the block area and sand table, who become competent climbers on the playground, and learn about language and literacy in the comfort of a teacher’s lap. The little folk at Club Fed have a nurturing environment in which to grow because the big folk have attended to quality."
- Abbe Kovacik, MS Ed, Executive Director, Capital District Child Care Council
"Quality child care is the key to long term positive outcomes for children and communities. The majority of a person’s intellect, personality and social skills develop before age five – making the early years a critical period. Children who participate in quality early care and learning programs get a foundation that allows them to succeed in school and life. Some indicators of high quality care are educated early childhood teachers, individualized care, developmentally appropriate curricula and language rich environments. By being part of the QUALITYstarsNY, Club Fed is demonstrating a continued to commitment to quality. We, as a state, need to amplify our commitment to QUALITYstarsNY and allow children across the state to have access to early care and learning programs that are as committed to quality as Club Fed is."
- Marsha Basloe, (Past) Executive Director, Early Care & Learning Council
"Quality early childhood education is an essential gateway to success in school and in life. The life long outcomes are clear beyond a doubt. Quality early childhood programs increase academic performance, graduation rates, and income levels. These same programs reduce the likelihood of arrest and incarceration. New York State needs to expand its commitment to quality early childhood education, Club Fed is one example of where this commitment has been made and is being delivered. But there are many more of our youngest New Yorkers across the state who need the same opportunity."
- Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education