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Eden Early Head Start Center opens in Rockingham County


Within minutes of arrival, the children began playing in fresh, colorful classrooms. Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.
EDEN —The Eden Early Head Start Center opened with officials speaking about the center’s comprehensive high quality educational and family services for 40 children ages 0 to 3 years in a newly renovated state-of-the-art facility.

“This sparkling center is a significant stepping stone toward ensuring that all children have access to affordable, high quality care in the earliest stages of their development,” said Maria Layne-Stevens, chief executive officer of nationally recognized Guilford Child Development (GCD), which will manage and operate the center. GCD is North Carolina’s largest Head Start/Early Head Start program.

Located in a section of the former historic Rhode Island Mill at 540 Riverside Drive, the Early Head Start Center fills a crucial gap in services for young people in Rockingham County. Educator Odette Webster will serve as the center’s director. On Monday, March 21, children arrived for a multifaceted learning experience.

Layne-Stevens said the emergence of this highly anticipated center is a countywide collaborative effort. “The opportunity to serve the young children of Rockingham County couldn’t have happened without the enthusiastic support of our community partners including the Rockingham County Partnership for Children and Rockingham County Schools,” she explained at the formal opening activities.

In addition to the Center, the Early Head Start program will serve 116 children in the county. That involves a partnership with Above and Beyond Childcare serving 16 children in Reidsville and separate homebased services for 60 children.

Layne-Stevens and other speakers addressed the comprehensive impact of Early Head Start. For the homebased program “that recognizes parents as their child’s most important teacher by pairing them with qualified teachers for weekly home visits designed to support them and promote early learning. Early Head Start not only focuses on the child but the entire family, offering wrap-around services to help everyone in the home achieve their vision of success.”

Funded with an expansion grant from the federal Office of Head Start, Eden Early Head Start will serve Rockingham County. With a widely dispersed population and changing demographics, access to services for underserved households in Rockingham will now have more early care options including homebased services.

“That’s why high-quality care is so important for young children, but it doesn’t end there,” Layne-Stevens said, explaining, “Quality early childhood education is a critical springboard to children’s success in school and life. In the first few years of life, a young child forms 1 million neural connections every second. The educational experiences a child has during the first 2,000 days — from birth to Kindergarten — will determine how their brains are wired for the rest of their life.”

Founded in 1967, Guilford Child Development offers quality comprehensive programs for young children and families in the Triad in collaboration with numerous community partners.