Since 1970, THE CENTER: A DROP-IN LEARNING AND RESOURCE CENTER (The Drop) has been providing a helping hand for families to achieve a better quality of life in the greater New London area. Connecticut State employees might be interested to learn about the Drop-In Learning Center, because most of the families served by the Drop are low- to middle-income families struggling to pay childcare and to provide an affordable home environment.
The Drop's mission statement is to foster the academic and social development of children and promote family engagement in the learning process. These initiatives are accomplished by providing a safe environment for before-and after-school care for school age students, daycare for toddlers and preschool, summer enrichment programs, after school and summer teen life/career skills programs, Reading Is Fundamental Program (RIF), parent/caregivers meetings, human resource and social services referrals, food vouchers, Kids In Distressful Situations (KIDS)-Clothing Closet. The Drop works to help all eligible low-income families apply for reimbursement through the State Care for Kids program and maintain certification. To fulfill these outcomes, The Drop partners with over 20 agencies and organizations.
The Drop's main site is at the Stone Cottage nestled under the trees on Mitchell College Campus. Teenagers meet at the Public Library of New London in a room they named "ENTER 2B AWESOME." In addition to being licensed by the Office of Early Childhood, The Drop is a School Readiness, DCF certified, camp licensed site.
The Drop's outcomes are the result of activities that cover four major developmental domains: personal/social, cognitive, creative expression, and physical. Last year's program included 163 children and youth from ages 18 months to 18 years. Participants received exposure to new skills and opportunities through educational workshops and field trips. In addition, about 8,630 youths receive books from RIF (Reading Is Fundamental). Over 100 at-risk children were protected from being unsupervised, or home alone, while parents were working. Parents are able to complete educational opportunities provided through a partnership with Connecticut Works. Recently, two families now own their own homes because of referrals to a home ownership program. Three parents completed their GED, because they had childcare while they pursued their education.
The following story demonstrates one of the ways The Drop impacts families: Recently, three toddlers moved up to the Ages 3 - 5 School Readiness slots leaving three empty slots in our Infant and Toddlers Room. A mother who surprisingly gave birth to triplets needed to go back into the workforce. Those vacant slots went to her triplets. Further, The Drop referred the mother to agencies that could help her to find employment and get financial assistance with daycare. The Drop was able to supply diapers and clothing from KIDS In Distressful Situations, get the mother assistance for tuition through Care for Kids, and
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