The Early Learning Hub, located in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, is a place for young children, their families, and early care and education providers to gather, play, learn, and grow. It provides professional development, family and community activities, play time for young children and caregivers, and information about birth-to-5 resources in the Homewood neighborhood.
About the Early Learning Hub
The Hub is the result of an innovative partnership between the Pittsburgh AEYC (PAEYC), Homewood Children’s Village, and other organizations focusing on Homewood, a neighborhood troubled by crime, violence, vacant properties, high unemployment, and poor outcomes for children. It is generously funded through the Richard King Mellon Foundation and private donations. The Hub is the birth-to-5 element of a neighborhood-wide strategy to engage children and families and ensure smooth transitions to Pittsburgh public schools. PAEYC serves as The Hub’s early childhood and education content expert and program administrator. Homewood Children’s Village focuses on engaging children in learning and helping them succeed once they enroll in the public schools.
The Hub has a dedicated professional development space, a cozy family meeting area, an infant and toddler classroom, and a preschool classroom that were furnished through a donation from Lakeshore Learning Materials. Although children are not directly enrolled at The Hub, its programming serves approximately 130 children, families, and early childhood education providers a month under the guidance of a dedicated staff of early learning professionals and professional development instructors.
Involving the community
The Early Learning Hub offers opportunities for play through its programming and information about developmentally appropriate play through its resource materials. Staff strive to educate the whole community about how play helps children learn at home and in school. They emphasize the importance of play for children who live in stressful environments. The Hub supports this message by providing space and time for families to lose themselves in the joy that is playing with their young children in a safe and developmentally appropriate environment.
The overarching goal of the Early Learning Hub is to authentically engage the community in all planning and programming. To this end, we asked Homewood residents to tell us five things they want every child from birth to 5 years old to experience. Over nine months we gathered 418 examples of community members’ hopes and dreams for their children. They included a safe community in which to play, self-respect, positive role models, and a home with unconditional love and support. We work to keep these ideas in the foreground of all Hub activities.
PAEYC regularly surveys program participants for feedback on programming and to ensure they have extensive input in future offerings. For example, family and group child care providers explained that they struggled to attend evening and Saturday professional development sessions. In response, PAEYC created a special home-based professional development series offered on Tuesday mornings. The providers can bring the children they care for and practice their new skills on the spot with support from a coach. In addition, the home-based providers have paired with community professionals to develop and deliver the professional development content to their fellow Homewood Child Care Alliance members. Building trust and relationships with community members takes time, but the investment pays dividends. Program attendance increases, and families and early childhood providers approach Hub staff for support, referrals, and technical assistance. PAEYC’s work with The Hub has also strengthened PAEYC’s relationship with the Pittsburgh public schools, which in turn supports developing a birth-to-third-grade continuum, or a true early childhood continuum . . . continue reading