Christina Short, supervisor at the center, manned a camera taking family portraits during the party on the center’s playground at 2105 N. Tracy Blvd.
“This is a celebration of the successful end of the year for all age groups,” Short said. “Some of our children have been here since they were infants. For them, it is turning the page on a chapter of their life.”
McKinley Village Child Development Center is part of the Head Start Child Development Council, which offers subsidized day care for low-income children from infancy to age 5.
Federal and state funding allows the McKinley Village Center to provide care throughout the day.
The cost of day care at the center is either free or charged on a sliding scale.
The 75 children in the program have parents who are working or are enrolled in school or job training.
Wednesday’s party was a chance for parents and center employees to celebrate the families’ accomplishments, according to Short.
“It is a partnership with the educators, so the children are ready to go to school and the parents are ready for self sufficiency,” Short said.
For Jackie Tift, a mother of four, the center helped during a stay at the McHenry House Tracy Family Shelter.
She enrolled her 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son in day care at the center.
“This program has given my kids a place to be with a great learning environment with a great staff,” Tift said.
Her children had never been to day care or had any schooling before.
“We couldn’t afford any day care,” Tift said. “This place has been a blessing. It helped us while we were transitioning — the children had a place to go every day and the same people.”
Tomara Schreiner was also thankful for the assistance offered by the day care program.
Schreiner was given emergency foster care of her four grandchildren by the court system and needed help with day care, which she couldn’t afford with her job.
“Without it, would be impossible to take care of all the kids,” Schreiner said. “The kids come with no funds. To continue working and take care of the kids — (there’s) no way to keep working without the day care.”
For information on Head Start, go online: www.hscdc.org
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.