Through three different programs the Community Partnership for Child Development (CPCD) serves over 1,700 children and families, but according to Claire Anderson, Development & Content Marketing Manager for CPCD, that accounts for only 4% of the need in the Colorado Springs area.
With a staff of 360, CPCP operates 65 classrooms in 6 different school districts through the Early Head Start, Head Start and the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP). Both Early Head Start and Head Start are government funded programs that cost $14,000 and $9,000 annually per child.
While many classrooms have had to move to virtual learning, Sanderson said CPCD is still making sure that every child still has access to CPCD’s comprehensive services. As a part of the enrollment process each family/child is assigned a Family Advocate.
“That advocate is there for the parents’ support,” Sanderson said. “Parents have the opportunity to make goals based on what they’d like to happen by the end of the year. The goals can be anything from a family who is homeless saying they want to be able to find housing, to a parent that wants to finish their bachelor’s degree. We have a whole range of situations that families are in and we meet them where they are in their struggles.”
The comprehensive services provided by CPCD range from mental health services with 14 staff members, behavioral health, dental screenings, vision screenings, a special needs department with speech and gross motor therapists, as well as providing at least 1-2 meals a day.
“For a lot of kids that’s the only healthy meal they get in a day,” Sanderson said.
CPCD is committed to making sure the families and children in the program do not lose the stability they’ve fought long and hard for. Using funds from a fundraiser in March, CPCD launched the ‘Stability Bus’ to get learning bags out to kids.
“We had a number of families struggling with rent and utilities, filling up that bus and donating to the bus allowed us to support a number of those families through temporary situations with COVID,” Sanderson said. “As we are likely on the rise with COVID again, we are preparing to have even more families in need. That’s the biggest thing that we are asking people to participate in-helping with extra donations to ensure that those families are taken care of, not evicted, and that they have heat and utilities.”
While CPCD’s biggest challenge is continuing to meet the fluctuating needs of parents and children, Sanderson said that over the next 10 years they hope to increase Early Head Start slots.
“Childcare in the community is expensive and incredibly hard to come by. For most of families living in poverty that’s even harder. Our early Head Start programs are 5 days 7 hours a day, and that’s a really great solution to not being able to afford traditional childcare,” Sanderson said.
Mandy Altman, a CPCD enrollment staff member, said that nine out of ten families that she interviews on a daily basis have heard about the Head Start program by work of mouth. Many military families however believe they don’t qualify.
“That’s absolutely not true,” Altman said. “You don’t have to qualify directly from income. I have so many families qualify for CPCD and a lot of military families meet the eligibility criteria. Accurate knowledge of what we do is huge.”
Sanderson said the easiest way to support CPCD’s work is telling people who qualify for the program about CPCD.
“Tell families that you see are struggling,” Sanderson said. “Do what you can to connect those families to us. We aren’t a program without our families. That’s the basis of what we do.