By: Marie Huey
Early Education Spotlight is an ongoing series that showcases great work happening in child care and preschool settings across Minnesota. From innovative early learning programs to parent perspectives on what works, check out the Early Education Spotlight for unique examples of Minnesota’s early learning successes.
Established in 2000, Bloom Early Learning & Child Care (formerly Kids’ Care Connection) is an accredited, award-winning, non-profit early learning center with a special mission to make the highest quality care, programs and curriculum accessible to the entire community. The center, located in Plymouth, Minnesota, is NAEYC accredited and 4-star Parent Aware rated. For a unique perspective on their program, here are some of the numbers that stand out at Bloom.
Bloom’s mission is to dedicate half of their capacity for single parents and low-income families who could not otherwise afford high-quality early learning programs. Through a blend of private contributions to their own Shirley Robinson Scholarship fund and public funds such as Early Learning Scholarships and the Child Care Assistance Program, Bloom is able to serve many children. In fact, since it opened 16 years ago, Bloom has provided care and learning for over 400 children. More than 175 of those children received financial assistance, totaling over $1 million in scholarships.
Combined years of teaching experience of staff at Bloom. This impressive number reflects the knowledge and experience of eight teachers, four assistant teachers, five aides, and two substitutes. Many of the teachers have Bachelor’s degrees, and some have Master’s. They stay at Bloom because of the families, the unique mission, and the program’s support of their professionalism and growth.
Number of handmade quilts by church parishoners this year for children transitioning to the toddler room. Bloom is located in the same building as Messiah United Methodist Church. When children transition from the infant room to the toddler room, they receive a handmade quilt from the church’s parishioners. While Bloom operates as their own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, they work with the church and other organizations to be good community connectors and partners. They work with Wayzata Public Schools’ Early Childhood Special Education services, located right across the street. They are part of the Caring for Kids Initiative, which supports access to early education for low-income families and is run by Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners. Bloom’s connection with community organizations allow them to provide additional resources, supports, and opportunities for their families and children.
Currently, 10 families have more than one child attending Bloom. Families choose Bloom for many reasons. They appreciate the high-quality environment, the nurturing, dedicated staff, and the family feel that comes with the size and structure of the space. Bloom specifically supports working families by offering care from 7:00am-6:00pm, so parents can be confident their children are safe, well cared-for, and learning while they are at work.
When it comes to working with children and families, numbers are only part of the picture. Many of Bloom’s outcomes aren’t quantifiable, but are perhaps even more important. Their work strengthens connections with the community and with families. Their program helps shape kind, responsible citizens who will succeed in the classroom and beyond.