Lynne Bridges, Seeds of Learning executive director, was the presenter at the weekly Pagosa Springs Kiwanis meeting.
Seeds of Learning Early Care and Education Center was originally created to offer infant care. It has since expanded to offer care and early education for children 18 months through five years. The school offers a bilingual program with Spanish classes being taught two times a week. Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 4, making these early years the most precious time to learn. All programs at Seeds are based upon research based practices, which are in direct line with what is “best for kids.”
A non-profit organization, Seeds of Learning depends upon tuition, grant funding, and the generosity of community support. The operating budget of the center is $500,000 annually.
The cost per day to support one child at Seeds is $50. Of the 54 students currently attending the facility, 47 pay only $25 a day, based upon a sliding scale. The additional $25 required to support each student or $150,000 to $185,000 annually for all the students is secured through grants and donations. Fortunately, Bridges is an excellent grant writer, receiving approximately 90 percent of all requested grant funding. She stated the center operates on a string budget, so securing funds is always a priority.
In addition to student-centered activities, Seeds offers parent education programs. Evolving from the center’s hot lunch, full meal food program, parents are taught about nutrition and what foods should be included in their children’s diets. Parents may also participate in a monthly parent advisory group. The advisory group has Board representation, makes suggestions and then implements improvements for Seeds. Parents also participate directly in maintaining the quality of the school grounds through activities as monthly cleaning, painting, and landscaping. All of these activities encourage parent ownership in Seeds.
Bridges and Mardel Gallegos, director of Head Start, are hoping to offer a second installment of the parenting program “Incredible Years.” Basic financial support of this program is through the efforts of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and Community United Methodist Church. Additional funding is still required. Anyone wishing to contribute to this, or who wants to request further information about Seeds of Learning, can contact the center at 264-5513. A 50-percent tax credit can be taken through the Colorado reward child care tax credit for all donations.