DEAR FRIENDS OF THE PLAYING FIELD,
This has been a busy season for all of us! In addition to reopening our original location and celebrating our fifth anniversary, we opened a second site on Madison’s east side!
As the pandemic hit, we took a giant leap of faith in continuing with our plans to open a second center. We have been overwhelmed by the support from our community and we are grateful to those who made this dream a reality!
Thank you to each of you who has contributed in any way! I am personally grateful to each of you who take the time to follow our progress, support our work, and share our mission with your friends or family!
Happy Birthday to The Playing Field
On September 8th, we celebrated our fifth birthday.
The Playing Field opened its doors in 2015 with the belief that all children deserve access to a high quality early education. Since then, we have worked hard to eliminate the barriers families face in accessing quality programs for their children.
A partnership with Early Head Start through Reach Dane has allowed us to address the barriers of both cost and transportation.
Child behaviors associated with early adversity are another barrier for many children. These behaviors often cause children to be suspended or expelled from early education settings. In 2017, The Center for American Progress reported that 250 preschoolers are suspended or expelled every day. Children of color— particularly boys are most likely to be excluded.
The practice of Conscious Discipline has allowed us to successfully work with children impacted by trauma. The key has been extensive training, coaching and support for our classroom staff. This has not only helped us to retain our students but, it has helped us to have a very high rate of staff retention as well.
In her book Creating the School Family, Dr. Becky Bailey compares the traditional model for education to a factory. Children are passed along from grade to grade and teachers are to impart a standard set of information each year. In a healthy family and in a healthy School Family, every child has their needs met— even when those needs are very different.
We have worked hard to create our healthy School Family! We are proud of our accomplishments and looking forward to continued growth with more opportunities to serve young children.
Our second location has opened its doors on Madison’s East side. We began caring for children on September 10th.
We have a long list of people to thank for this beautiful, new site!
- Grants from United Way Dane County and the City of Madison will allow us to offer care to children impacted by homelessness.
- Iconica donated the services of architect, Jeremy Frommelt. Jeremy assisted us with plans for the temporary site as well as plans for the beautiful, new building we hope to occupy. He also helped us to navigate local requirements and the building inspection process.
- JH Findorff & Son, Inc. brought their special projects team in to replace old doors, cut concrete, install cabinets, and complete the trim around windows and doors.
- Coyle Carpet One Floor and Home donated beautiful, new flooring that transformed the look of the site!
- Our neighbors at Carpet Plus donated the perfect carpet for the infant crib area.
- Beautiful signage was designed by Cheramy Story Arts and Marketing. AM Solutions printed the signs and provided them to us free of charge.
- Countless volunteers helped us prepare the space by cleaning, painting, and assembling equipment.
- Many supporters sent gifts from our Amazon Wish List.
To each person or group who helped us in any way, we are incredibly grateful! We can’t wait to show you the amazing space you have provided for young children impacted by homelessness!
Watch for details on our upcoming Virtual Grand Opening!
Our dear friends from the Attic Angel Association spent much of 2019 raising funds for our new playgrounds. In celebration of their 175th birthday, they gifted us with the money needed to improve our infant-toddler playground and to build a one of a kind sensory play space.
The infant-toddler area is nearly complete. A new climbing structure and wood stage have been added to the toddler area. Rubber surfacing has also been added to that space. A new area has been created for swings that can be used by both babies and toddlers. Additional space has also been added where babies can play safely away from those who are already walking or running. A small play house has been installed and a glider will be added so teachers can rock infants outdoors.
The sensory play space has been designed with input from Dr. Becky Bailey of Conscious Discipline, Designer, Gerry Slater, and UW students of Occupational Therapy. The area has been enclosed and the pieces are being custom built. Some will be installed soon and others will arrive in the spring.
This space is truly unique. As children walk along a nature path, there will be different stations that provide opportunities for both sensory input and output. The path is designed to help disregulated children become more organized. It will be a big help for many of our children and especially for those impacted by trauma.
We will continue to keep you updated on our progress.
Ways to be Helpful
As with many organizations, the pandemic has placed some strain on us. We are committed to carrying on and will continue to provide high quality care to young children in our community.
At this time, your help and support are very much needed and appreciated! There are many ways you can assist.
- Donate to our scholarship fund. Many of our Early Head Start families have lost child care funding. Our agreement with EHS requires that we still provide care— even when there is no funding. This is a federal mandate intended to ensure children receive consistent care. While the intent is good, this places a burden on our program.
- Purchase items for our new location from our Amazon Wish List.
- Volunteer at our current site. We have a need for someone to walk children to the parking lot each afternoon. The duties would be walking a child from their classroom to their family’s vehicle in the parking lot. Due to COVID, parents are no longer coming into the classrooms. Volunteers must undergo a physical, TB test, and complete background check.
- Help put the finishing touches on our new site. There are several things that need to be completed including painting, light building, removing old sand, and assembling equipment. Send us an email if you can help!