Sleeping Giant Day Care receives funding to continue care
HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) — The town recently received a $515,798.40 grant from the Connecticut Department of Early Childhood that will allow Sleeping Giant Day Care to continue caring for and educating children from poor families.
Sleeping Giant Day Care has been operating since 1979, Director Edie Reichard said Wednesday. The grant, which it has received consistently since the early 1980s, will fund the center for another two years.
“Keeping the grant just really helps us to keep the program open. Without that grant, we wouldn’t be open,” said Reichard.
Reichard said the day care, located at the Keefe Community Center, 11 Pine Street, serves children from poor-to-moderate income, working families — most falling below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
There currently are 30 children enrolled — 10 three-year-olds and 20 four-year-olds, Reichard said.
The day care strives to prepare young people for kindergarten, teaching them about basic subjects — English, math, science — through play, she said.
They’ll count blocks, use a tape measure to see who’s tallest, figure out how many of them would fit in the footprint of a Stegosaurus, Reichard said. The aim is to reach them in the right way for their age.
“Three- and four-year-olds aren’t ready to sit at a desk to learn, so you have to come down to where they’re ready,” said Reichard. “If they were at home, they’d be learning through play — that’s how we all learned growing up ... They pick more up through play at this stage of their life.”
The day care provides a boon for the families, who might not otherwise be able to afford child care, and for the kids, who often have not had access to this sort of educational grounding, she said.
Reichard became the director of Sleeping Giant Day Care in 2004, after stints in Bridgeport and Shelton. She was attracted to the position by the chance to help young people in need, she said, and a warm welcome.
“These kids — they love coming to school, and I think that’s really pulled me in. As soon as I came, the kids were giving hugs — I mean, they didn’t even know me,” said Reichard. “I think we all feel that — all the teachers who work here.”
Reichard said she did not expect to make a career in the field when she started. But the opportunity to work with children has been meaningful.
“I just love being with the kids and really watching and seeing them grow — seeing how far they come in such a short time,” said Reichard.
Information from: New Haven Register, http://www.nhregister.com