Photo courtesy of UPC Parks
Shasta County’s Youngest to Benefit From New Center
Shasta County’s Office of Education (SCOE) recently celebrated a new central access point to resources for young children and their families. The new Early Childhood Education and Observation Center will allow SCOE to better serve children, families, educators and the community. In addition to space for services, the center features a new playground area, Pineapple Hill.
The center features:
- Co-located programs to streamline systems and break down barriers.
- Early education services, including high-quality programs, authentic assessments for children ages 0 to 5, and individual and group therapy.
- Intensive behavioral supports for children ages 3 to 5 and their families.
- Workforce development, including on-site courses, scholarships, tutors and child care support for educators, nurses, other support staff and people seeking certification to move into these positions.
- Family wellness, including respite, meals, child care, training and therapy.
“We are changing the way we serve and support children,” said Renee Menefee, SCOE’s executive director for Early Childhood Services.
“I am excited to see the opportunities that will be available for children and families, as well as for potential and existing staff to learn and grow through this investment,” said Shasta County Schools Superintendent Judy Flores. “I truly believe that as we focus on what this space will provide, we will take a giant step forward toward our vision for all students in Shasta County.”
The expansion tripled the space from 7,000 to 21,000 square feet, and was made possible in large part by an $8 million Inclusive Education Expansion Grant from the California Department of Education. “We are investing in kids,” Menefee said.
Classroom A is an inclusive preschool classroom with an embedded assessment center. This space allows children to be assessed by people they know and trust in a typical setting to see if they have specialized needs. Classroom B is the Care Classroom, where children with behavioral challenges have been referred for short-term interventions and support for families. Mental health, behavioral specialists and one-on-one support for families are provided. Between the classrooms, students working toward a license or credential can observe and interact with classroom teachers from an observation room.
Partners that will be co-located at the facility include Bridges to School Success, Early Connections, Pathways to Hope parent partners, HHSA mental health programs, CalWORKs and mentors.
Beyond the classrooms are a maker space, commercial kitchen, sensory room, offices and an open workspace that can accommodate about 120 people. This space will be used for family support services, trainings and workspace for itinerant staff.
In the middle of the facility is the Pineapple Hill playground, funded in part by First 5 Shasta. This unique nature play area includes monkey bars and balance beams. The central play feature is a unique mound designed and manufactured by UPC Parks. Called Pineapple Hill, the mound has an embankment slide, ADA transfer platforms, stump climbers, play trails, hop rocks and an 11-foot tunnel.
“Pineapple Hill is unique, both in the type of play and how much play value is included in an area this size,” according to the designer, Dan Christensen.
“What a great accomplishment,” said Shellie Wright MacColl, Shasta County’s consultant from the California State Preschool Program. “All of you are so committed to early childhood in Shasta County. It is such a pleasure to watch your work.”
All photos courtesy of UPC Parks
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