SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -The Children’s Center on Hilton Head Island takes a community-first approach to childcare, including a sliding-scale tuition that asks parents to pay what they can afford.
You would never know it from the smiles and laughter, but all this fun was born from a real problem on Hilton Head Island.
“52 years ago, there were middle school students who were not going to school because they were staying home and taking care of the little babies,” said Executive Director Jody Levitt.
For over half a century, the Children’s Center has taken that responsibility, offering affordable childcare for parents who work on the island and early education for their pre-schoolers.
“Some people have to choose between having care for their children and having a job,” said Levitt. “So, this offers that opportunity. We really are part of the business community in that people can’t work if their families aren’t cared for.”
As daycare has evolved, so have the activities at the Children’s Center, which range from play time to classroom time: whether kids are taking their first steps, making their first baskets or getting prepared for their first day of school.
“Brain development starts at Day 1 and 80% of our brains are developed by the age if 5,” said Levitt. “So, these are very important years for these kids. So, we take that opportunity to help them develop and be ready when they go to kindergarten. Our teachers do lesson plans just like a high school or college teacher would. Every week our kids have something specific to help them on that developmental trajectory.”
But the Community Champions at the Children’s Center still find a way to make learning fun and safe for families from all across the Lowcountry.
“We have people coming from Jasper, Hampton, Colleton County, from Beaufort,” said Levitt. "If their families work here, then they can bring their children here
The Children’s Center accepts children from six weeks to 5-years-old, but also has after-school and summer camp programs for children up to second grade.