Published: 4/17/2020 9:36:31 AM
Modified: 4/17/2020 9:36:18 AM
To the Administration of NHTI and the Community College System of New Hampshire: I am writing today regarding the concerning and devastating news about the closure and questionable future of the NHTI Child and Family Development Center.
I graduated from NHTI in 2008 with an associate’s degree in early childhood education. During my time at NHTI, I worked at the CFDC for three years alongside some of the most talented early childhood educators in the state. This place was my home and the springboard for what I consider a successful career. I now serve as an assistant director at a campus child development center. I am blessed beyond measure with a 3-year-old daughter who attends a college supported campus child development center.
NHTI’s early childhood program provided me with opportunity. I spent three years alongside one of the best toddler teachers in the state, Andrea Foster Burdick. Additionally, I was inspired and led by Lisa Ranfos, a former director of the CFDC and my current colleague. I was afforded the opportunity to grow and deepen my experiences. I learned about best practices, the importance of relationships with children and families, and how critical hands-on experience is for college students entering the workforce. I am a proud product of my community college experience. The way in which I approach my current families at work and my own child at home directly related to my experience at the CFDC.
I left the CDFC, after finishing my B.S. at UNH, to pursue a career in the public sector at the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services former Child Development Bureau. The skills and knowledge I gained at the CFDC allowed me to bring forth new perspectives and create change at the state level. My proudest moment at the Child Development Bureau was when I led the revision work and writing of the N.H. Early Learning Standards, alongside Dr. Ellen Wheatley (now deputy director of the Federal Office of Child Care) and Dr. Patricia Cantor (Plymouth State University). The combination of these two professional experiences served as the springboard for the next step that I took in my career.
For the past five years, I have served as an assistant director at a campus lab school. I consider this my home and hope to continue to call it home for the duration of my career. I work alongside talented and dedicated staff that continue to challenge me to grow professionally. My 3-year-old daughter has reaped the benefits of my colleagues’ expertise since she joined the center at 14 weeks old. As a former state employee who directly worked with early childhood professionals and child care programs, I can confidently say that the only other place I would entrust the care of my child is NHTI’s CFDC.
Early childhood education matters. College campus lab schools matter. When colleges, universities and states financially invest in campus lab schools, they are directly making an investment in the development of the future workforce for both the young children in attendance and the college students that gain invaluable hands-on experiences. Financially outsourcing the CFDC to a third-party vendor, such as a corporate child care buyout, would strip away the CFDC’s rich identity and philosophy. Their approach to early childhood education is heavily rooted in theory and focused on the importance of play as the vehicle for optimal child development. This is only a slice of information related to the rich history of the CFDC. This truly is what makes it a highly sought out facility.
In closing, I say shame on the administration at NHTI for doubting the future of one of New Hampshire’s few high-quality programs, for not providing a detailed plan focused on the re-opening of the CFDC, and for not maintaining a commitment to the many staff that have dedicated their entire careers to this utopian program.
(Jessica Carver lives in Nottingham.)