Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and Thompson partner to serve Latinx preschoolers this fall
Charlotte, N.C. – Charlotte Bilingual Preschool is pleased to announce a partnership with Thompson Child & Family Focus (Thompson) to implement two bilingual MECK Pre-K classrooms serving four- and five-year old children on-campus at Thompson’s Child Development Center on Clanton Road on Charlotte’s West Side. This 11th hour partnership came at a time of great challenge for Charlotte Bilingual Preschool when MECK Pre-K, the Universal Pre-K program in Mecklenburg County and the funder for four of the Preschool’s classrooms made an announcement that left Charlotte Bilingual Preschool unable to serve the children and families that depend on the school.
The partnership with Thompson, a human services leader in early childhood, family stability, and mental health services, will allow families served by Charlotte Bilingual Preschool to have a choice between remote learning and in-person learning. MECK Pre-K, funded by Mecklenburg County and managed by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, previously declared that only in-person learning would be reimbursable. Since Charlotte Bilingual Preschool is located on the campus of Hickory Grove Elementary School, a CMS school that is remaining closed due to COVID-19, the preschool was caught between two systems with differing perspectives about best practices and no ability to serve 72 children.
“We were truly stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Banu Valladares, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool’s Executive Director said. “We appealed to the media because it appeared we were at an impasse and that would have dramatically impacted the families we serve.”
Through outreach to the public via traditional and digital media channels, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool succeeded in increasing visibility of its plight and caught the attention of Thompson’s President/CEO Will Jones, whose agency had been providing early education services at its Child Development Center since the beginning of COVID-19 for essential workers and other residents in need. With a diminished number of learners due to the pandemic, Thompson was uniquely well-positioned to meet the call.
“This is an example of truly a win-win-win for everyone involved,” Jones said. “Charlotte Bilingual Preschool will have an opportunity to provide in-person instruction for the families who choose it, MECK Pre-K is able to demonstrate responsiveness to community voice, and Thompson gets the opportunity to partner with both organizations it has long admired and desired to work with.”
In addition to restoring funding to serve 54 of the 72 children supported by MECK Pre-K, the partnership with Thompson has also helped to loosen MECK Pre-K’s restrictions, allowing CltBP to offer its high quality remote learning to families that choose to remain remote during this pandemic. CMS has also provided some rent forgiveness, though Charlotte Bilingual Preschool will need to take on the addition out-of-pocket expense to serve the in-person classrooms and the remaining 18 children by opening a 5th remote classroom.
“This is a clear example of what is possible when system partners and the community work together to meet the needs of our area families,” Valladares said. “Early education is critical to supporting families as they work through the challenges of this pandemic.”
Quality early childhood care and education was prioritized by Charlotte-based implementation initiative Leading on Opportunity as an essential ingredient to increase economic mobility in this region. COVID-19 has significantly disrupted the systems of early education for Charlotte-area families. According to the Early Childhood Education Journal, communities are in “the biggest unplanned experiment that education has ever seen in our lifetimes.”
About Charlotte Bilingual Preschool
Charlotte Bilingual Preschool prepares Spanish-speaking children for success in school and life by providing superior dual-language early childhood education. The 5-star preschool supports students’ families with parenting, life skills and English-language classes, enabling them to sustain and nurture their children’s educational and emotional development. To read more about Charlotte Bilingual Preschool’s services online, go to bilingualpreschool.org.
Headquartered in Matthews, North Carolina (Mecklenburg County), Thompson Child & Family Focus is a human services leader transforming lives through early childhood, family stability, and mental health services. As a solutions-driven organization committed to rewriting narratives for the most vulnerable in our community;
Thompson achieves this by providing comprehensive, evidence-based services, and trauma-informed care, for children (ages 0-18) and their families, virtually and in-person. Thompson employs over 250 staff across several locations in Matthews, Charlotte, and Arden, NC, and is led by President/CEO, Will Jones.
To read more about Thompson’s continuum of services online, go to thompsoncff.org, or email email@example.com.