The Children’s Center
December 2021 Issue
Part of Pink's "Making a Difference: 6 Women Who Care" Special Section
Photography by T.R. Love, T.R. Media World
Jody L. Levitt
The Children’s Center
Mission: The Children’s Center provides affordable, high quality, early childhood education and childcare services for working families. We strive to be the standard of excellence for child education, development and care in the Lowcountry, while supporting our community, enabling parents to fully participate in the local workforce and ensuring every child is ready to achieve success upon entering kindergarten.
Location: 8 Nature’s Way, HHI, SC 29926
Tell us about The Children’s Center:
The Children’s Center has served Hilton Head Island and the Lowcountry for almost 55 years, making us the second oldest non-profit organization on Hilton Head. The Children’s Center, Inc. is a unique, not-for-profit organization that provides working families affordable and accessible early childhood education and childcare services. We make high quality early education and childcare services available and affordable for working families, giving children a great start to life.
The Center was founded when concerned community leaders recognized the need for low-cost, safe, nurturing childcare for the children of working parents on Hilton Head Island. The Children’s Centers’ multicultural, bilingual, early childhood education program is provided five days a week, year-round, beginning at 6-weeks of age. Our goal is to provide a learning environment that enhances the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic and creative development of each child. The Children’s Center offers families a sliding scale tuition program, based on household income.
Who benefits from this program?
Quality childcare benefits everyone in the community: working parents, children, businesses and all residents who depend on every type of product and service (teachers, dental assistants, nurses, firefighters, chefs, retail clerks, etc.). For this reason, the solution to making childcare available needs to be supported by the entire community. The childcare industry is a vital, yet often overlooked, cornerstone of every community. Parents of infants and toddlers rely on quality childcare to enable them to confidently go to work each day. Working parents of school-age children need a safe and engaging environment for their children before school, after school, on weekends and during the summer. Businesses rely on a community’s childcare services so their employees can come to work each day. Empty nesters and retirees alike rely on those same employees to provide needed goods and services.
What is your role in the organization and how did you come to this role?
I am the Executive Director at The Children’s Center. As a member of the Rotary Club of Hilton head, I got to know a member of the Children’s Center Board at the same time they were looking for a new ED; it was a match made in heaven. I was looking for a place that would challenge me for the remainder of my career, and I could not be happier coming to work each day!
What brings you the most joy in being a part of this organization?
There is no doubt the most joy comes from watching the babies grow into preschoolers, developing socially, emotionally and developmentally. I have been blessed to have watched two graduating classes where some of the children came to our Center as infants and we have sent them off to public school ready to take on the world! They are truly the future of our Island, and I know they will do great things!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to feel emotionally warm.
Please share the best, most exciting, most joyous success
story (or two) that has happened because of this organization.
Natasha is the mother of two children at our Center. Rensie just “graduated” from the Sea Horse class (infant room) to the Sand Castles (one-year class). She came to TCC at 6-months old. She has learned to share toys, sing and dance and is beginning to repeat simple words. Her brother, Rolland, has moved from the 2-year-old class to the 3-year-old class. He is starting to speak in full sentences, associating cause and effect and learning to kick and throw the balls on the playground. These all sound like simple, natural steps in development, but without the consistent and loving care of their teachers, there is no guarantee these children would be developmentally “on track” for their age. Both children are learning English as a second language here at our Center, as well.
Mom, Natasha, says she is thrilled with the strides her children have made and truly amazed by what they have learned. She is grateful her children have a place to come so she can work every day. She says, “Me encanta estar aquí porque a mis bebés les encanta. Puedo trabajar y ellos pueden aprender.” (I love it here because my babies love it. I can work, and they can learn.)
Tell us the most important thing people should know about The Children’s Center:
The Children’s Center is not just daycare. The services provided support the economic vitality of our community today and for years to come.
How can people get involved, help, donate or volunteer with The Children’s Center? Do you have a wish list?
We encourage volunteers to visit our classrooms to read, play, rock-a-bye and just enjoy interacting with our children. We have several committees that appreciate individual expertise such as finance, fundraising, special event support, public relations and much more. Our Center relies on the generosity of our community to provide necessary resources that keep our doors open. Research shows that every dollar invested in early childhood education returns $7 - $13 saved in future costs to society. For information on volunteering, or making a donation, please visit www.TheChildrensCenterSC.org.
Laying the foundation for success at the earliest years of a child’s development has been proven as critical, especially for those children growing up in low-income households. According to author, pediatrician and early childhood educator, Dr. Laura Jana: “The opportunity for foundational brain building begins right from day one. The entire period leading up to toddlerhood and extending several years past it, specifically, between birth and age five years, offers us an unparalleled window of opportunity to facilitate the assembly of an invaluable set of life-enhancing, twenty-first-century skills that will serve our children well throughout their entire lives.” From birth to age five, the brain develops faster than at any other time of life. Early brain development has a lasting impact on a child’s ability to learn and achieve throughout their lives. Assuring opportunity for making connections, enriching early experiences and promoting curiosity, creativity and discovery can offer children the necessary foundation for a lifetime of achieving personal and professional success.