PEKIN — In the 2018-19 academic year, Pekin Community High School will for the first time offer full-day child care for faculty and staff.
Children ages 6 weeks to 5 years will be accepted into the Little Dragons Early Childhood Education Center.
Assistant Superintendent Melissa Bloom said the high school wanted to offer this program so employees can have their children at work. It will be a day care or preschool setting, depending on the child’s age, with a focus on age-appropriate developmental skills. PCHS will provide breakfast and snacks, but children will bring their own lunches.
The infant class is full, but the prekindergarten class has seven or eight spots still available. The facility for the program was renovated, with sensory tables, a dramatic play area, reading corner, math station and an enclosed playground area. There is also a nursing room for new moms.
Superintendent Danielle Owens said this is “a fairly unique program.” She does not know of any other schools in the area that offer a similar program.
“I know big corporations sometimes offer it to their employees, but I don’t know of schools around here that do,” she said. “We wondered, what is a perk we can offer to employees and potential employees that is not monetarily based. We will offer extended hours for staff meeting days.”
Owens said that staff members who have a child or children enrolled in the school’s child care program will have the cost deducted from their paychecks.
High school students who take Child Care I and Child Care II will be helping with the Little Dragons. Art students will get to practice face-painting skills on the preschool children. Other students in other disciplines might also get involved, said instructor Patricia Meyer.
Some PCHS students will gain real-life skills in the program. Bloom said they will develop lesson plans and they follow Illinois Department of Children and Family Services rules, just like adults who work in day cares.
“By the time (PCHS students) are done with this program, they will have their EC1 certificate to get a job at a day care or latchkey program,” said Bloom.