STEM Preschool was approved by the Arlington County Board last night for a use permit at 3120 S. Abingdon Street, in the 74-year-old building once occupied by Frosty’s Heating and Cooling, next to Fire Station 7.
“We have a need in our community for daycare, for childcare,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said before the Board unanimously approved the application. “As we get more families, day care is a really important service to provide. I think this is going to be a great addition to the Fairlington community.”
The preschool is owned by Portia Moore, who owns P&E Babysitting, a service that caters largely to North Arlington families and has a five-star rating on Yelp. Moore started the babysitting business while she was a teacher for Arlington Public Schools. She taught for three yeas at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, one at Swanson Middle School and one at Patrick Henry Elementary School, in the preschool program.
Moore said she wanted to start a preschool focused on STEM education ever since she was getting her master’s degree from Marymount University and visited the elementary school programs at Ft. Belvoir.
“They have an amazing program there, with interactive labs with kindergarteners,” Moore told ARLnow.com this morning. “It was hands on, not just reading off the board. The children would learn through touching things and labs. It was interesting to me, and I thought younger kids could learn just like that.”
Moore said that there will be about 11 staff members trained in early STEM education, including a director with a master’s degree in early childhood education. She won’t be closing the babysitting business — “I think my clients would kill me,” she said — and she had hoped to be closer to her clientele, but said she fell in love with the space.
“There’s an outdoor play area in the back, and a lot of places in Arlington don’t have any land for that,” she said. As a requirement of her use permit, county staff mandated that the playground Moore plans to build is fenced in for the children’s safety.
Inside the school, there will be hands on activities to get the children to engage in STEM education, like plants, a butterfly garden to observe an insect’s life cycle and a “water table” to observe the phases of water. “Everything will be integrated,” Moore said, “the kids won’t just be doing science during science time, there will be math components, too.”
Now that the permit is approved, Moore said only building permits are left before construction can begin. She estimates the school will open on Jan. 20, the day after Martin Luther King Day. The center plans to operate 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. There are 15 parking spaces in the lot, but staff approved the site, pointing out nearby street parking is readily available for staff to use.
Photo via Google Maps
Yet another caregiver at a daycare center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has been charged with abusing children.
Va Nessa Taylor, 47, or Temple Hills, Md. has been charged with misdemeanor assault after military investigators found that she allegedly hit, pushed and withheld food from children between the ages of 18 months and two years. From a Department of Justice press release:
On Jan. 29, 2014, a CDC employee reported to a supervisor that Taylor had been observed withholding food from a two-year-old child during the facility’s lunch period. After this conduct was reported, officials investigated the allegations and conducted a thorough review of surveillance footage within the CDC. That investigation ultimately revealed four instances in which Taylor allegedly assaulted four children within her care by hitting and pushing the children. The children ranged in ages from 18 months to two years, and the observed conduct occurred from Nov. 26, 2013 to Jan. 29, 2014.
Based on the investigation, Taylor’s conduct did not appear to result in sustained physical injury to the children. Taylor was removed from her duties of supervising children on Jan. 30, 2014, immediately after her conduct was reported to the relevant authorities at JBM-HH.
The alleged assault happened at the Cody Child Development Center, the military’s largest daycare center, which serves the children of military and civilian families that work at the Pentagon, Myer-Henderson Hall and Ft. McNair.
It’s the third such incident of alleged abuse at the base in two years.
In October 2012 three childcare workers were charged with multiple counts of assault. In December 2012, nearly three dozen workers childcare workers were suspended after background checks revealed past criminal charges. In February 2013 the Cody CDC lost its accreditation after another childcare worker was accused of abuse after allegedly being observed hitting a child with a cushion.
Located at 3650 S. Glebe Road, Melody Tavern was a bar/restaurant that hosted live music. It closed in October 2012 after 10 months in business.
The space is now being renovated and will become the new location of the Crystal City Children’s Center. The parent-run cooperative child care center opened in 1987 and is currently located at 1900 S. Eads Street.
The new location will allow Crystal City Children’s Center to expand from 64 to 108 children, according to Luellen Matthews, director of the center. Among other features of the new center will be a state-of-the-art secure entryway, she said. Workers could be seen yesterday taking down old Melody Tavern signs and replacing them with Children’s Center signs.
“We expect to re-locate by late October,” Matthews told ARLnow.com.
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
As ARLnow.com reported last week after an enormous public outcry, the Arlington County Board has decided not to accept a proposal by the Arlington County Manager to save roughly $250,000 annually by cutting the additional staff Arlington needs to enforce stricter child care standards for Arlington childcare facilities.
What prompted the County Manager to make this proposal in the first place? What are the most important lessons to be learned from this experience?
The County Manager made this proposal because she was instructed last November to make recommendations for cuts in the County’s operating budget that added up to one half of the then estimated $50 million shortfall in the budget. She was looking for ways to cut about $25 million out of the operating budget. This proposed $250,000 cut represented only one percent of the savings she was trying to achieve, yet she proposed the cut anyway.
I believe the County Manager made this recommendation in good faith because it was her way of trying to cope with the lack of willingness by the County Board to reduce or eliminate the huge expenses associated with financing projects like the Artisphere, the Aquatic Center, and the Clarendon dog park. With those projects and others like them “off the table”, the Manager was forced to reach out for a relatively small projected saving in an area like this.
The many Arlington consumers of child care services revolted and shone a light on the risks of gutting Arlington’s child care guidelines. But, those risks were well known, or certainly should have been well known, beforehand.
This $250,000 skirmish over childcare guidelines is just a taste of much more dire cuts to Arlington’s social safety net that are in the offing in future battles over the FY 15, 16, and 17 budgets unless the County Board fundamentally alters its current trajectory of layering one overly-costly capital project after another onto a budget beset by revenue shortfalls due to the flat commercial real estate sector of Arlington’s economy.
Claims that some of these capital projects, like the Columbia Pike streetcar, don’t impact Arlington’s operating budget because they are funded by a “special surtax on commercial property that can only be used for transportation”, are just plain wrong. These supposedly special capital projects do indeed affect Arlington’s operating budget adversely. There is “no such thing as a free lunch.”
The same commercial property owners who pay this special transportation surtax also pay the regular real estate tax that funds the bulk of Arlington’s operating budget. If the Board continues to impose this special transportation surtax at the maximum rate, while also continuing to raise the regular real estate tax rate that directly funds the operating budget, these commercial property owners will pass these costs on to Arlington consumers of their products or services, or they will move to greener pastures in Tysons.
Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
The recommendation, one of numerous spending cuts in County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed budget, was met with controversy. Hundreds of parents and residents signed a petition against the elimination of Arlington Child Care Office, which would have turned inspections over to the state and resulted in more lax oversight.
The county issued the following press release about the Board’s decision tonight.
Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada today said that the County will continue its inspections of childcare centers and family childcare homes and will continue to train providers. County Manager Barbara Donnellan had recommended in her Proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Budget that the County eliminate childcare inspections and provider training.
“The Board is committed to maintaining Arlington’s inspections of childcare facilities and training for providers,” Tejada said. “Although most localities in Virginia rely on the State alone to conduct inspections of childcare facilities, Arlington has, for more than 40 years, provided an extra layer of inspections and training for providers – and the Board is committed to continuing both of those elements.”
Tejada made his statement at the start of a Board public work session on the Department of Human Services’ proposed FY 2014 Budget. In her Proposed FY 2014 Budget, had recommended that the County rely on the state to inspect childcare centers and family childcare homes, and cut provider training, as part of her effort to cut costs across departments. The proposed cuts to inspection services had raised concerns within the community about the safety of Arlington’s childcare facilities.
The measure would have saved about $250,000 per year. The County Board will approve a final Fiscal Year 2014 budget on April 20.
A group of residents is organizing to oppose a proposed cut to child care regulation in Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed budget.
Donnellan’s budget, which is under consideration by the County Board, cuts the county’s Child Care Office, which regulates local daycare centers. Three full time positions would be eliminated, saving $250,000 annually.
If the cut were made, a local ordinance regulating daycare providers would be eliminated, and oversight of such daycare centers would be returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which opponents say has weaker standards than the county. In addition, family daycare centers with up to 5 children are not regulated by the state and would instead go unregulated.
“The County Code and Child Care Office PROTECT our children by requiring small home daycares to be licensed and by requiring SIGNIFICANTLY higher standards for all settings,” says the petition page. “Investing in early childhood is SMART ECOMONICS: research has shown high quality early care and education significantly decreases major social and economonic problems such as crime, teenage pregnancy, dropping out of high school and adverse health conditions.”
The petition was started by Sandra Redmore, director of the Clarendon Child Care Center.
In addition to eliminating local oversight of the county’s dozens of licensed daycare providers, the closure of the Child Care Office would eliminate professional development programs run by the office.
Child Care Office supporters are being asked to register today to speak at the upcoming March 26 public budget hearing.
Photo via Arlington County