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Suffolk’s Early Childhood Task Force was formed as a result of the work of former Suffolk Mayor Chris Jones and concerned community members. A grant was awarded to The Planning Council of the City of Norfolk, by The Commonwealth of Virginia, for the purpose of improving affordable, quality child care in Suffolk. The founding members of the Early Childhood Task Force were Brenda Galen – Owner/Administrator of Enchanted Treasures Child Enrichment Center; former independent Family Home Care Provider; past director at a corporate child care center in Portsmouth, Marie Baker – Associate Professor and Chairman of the Early Childhood Department, Tidewater Community College, Virginia Staylor, Director of Growing Up at Obici Child Development Center; former director of Main Street Day Care and Preschool; past director of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Early School, and adjunct faculty at Tidewater Community College, and Joyce Trump – Assistant Superintendent of Suffolk City Public Schools.
The mission of the original task force was to increase awareness of city administrators about early care needs for children and to encourage the formation of a city-wide commission to address these needs.
Some of the early care issues and needs for Suffolk were identified as follows:
- Increase awareness of city leaders to early care issues
- Compile a list of licensed centers and home care providers in Suffolk
- Give a thorough explanation of early care services available in Suffolk to owners and directors of early care facilities
- Expand opportunities for quality, affordable child care and other preschool experiences such as Head Start, Even Start, at-risk child care programs, before and after-school care, etc.
- Initiate programs which will alert all parents and guardians to services available for young children in Suffolk
Research and secure grants to assist the commission in achieving it’s goals
Commission members would be chosen based on a genuine interest in all the children of Suffolk. After the expiration of the grant awarded to the City of Suffolk, the Early Childhood Task Force continued to work and enhance the focus of their goal to establish an early childhood development commission in the City of Suffolk. After many months of planning and on-going volunteer support, on July 20, 1994, Suffolk City Council adopted an ordinance establishing an Early Childhood Development Commission for the City of Suffolk. The commission was to focus on these broad needs as well as specified areas of concern.
Currently, the early childhood development commission has 12 appointed-volunteer members and a full-time coordinator. ECDC receives funding from the City of Suffolk, through Suffolk's Department of Social Services, Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, and The Obici Healthcare Foundation. The Commission continues its work to ensure that all children in Suffolk are healthy and ready to succeed in life.