Program Profile: Sunnyside Child Care Center at Smith in Northampton, Massachusetts
At Sunnyside Child Care Center at Smith, the parent cooperative model helps welcome and nurture parents and facilitates reciprocity between parents and staff.
Sunnyside is strongly committed to diversity, and enrolled families represent a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, languages, family structures, and socioeconomic statuses. One parent says, “No two families look exactly the same or come from the same background, neighborhood, social community, or economic status…. the diversity within the school is enhanced by the school’s climate and practices.” Another parent adds, “I’m excited that my daughter has friends and classmates of different races, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I am hoping this early foundation will teach her to be accepting of people regardless of differences or, ideally, to be blinded to superficial differences. Social events outside the classroom have also allowed my husband and I to meet a diverse group of people that we might not have met otherwise.”
Family Engagement Program Practices
Director Beemer says, “The parent cooperative piece of our program offers us the opportunity to tap talents of the entire parent community as well as alumni as we work to overcome challenges and grow our program over the years. This truly makes Sunnyside a special place!” A parent confides, “One reason we chose Sunnyside was because of the co-op model. We wanted a place that welcomed, nurtured, and expected reciprocity between parents and staff.”
Learning Activities at Home and in the Community
A Comprehensive Program-Level System
Sunnyside’s board also has a Diversity Committee made up of board members, staff, and parents who take a special interest in diversity. The committee’s mission statement reads:
Sunnyside’s Diversity Committee is dedicated to creating an inclusive and welcoming community grounded in respect and appreciation for individual and family differences. The premise of the Committee is that Sunnyside children, and the center itself, thrive on the vibrancy of our differences, including gender, language, race/ethnicity, religion, social class, family composition, and ability or disability. The Committee strives to support families and teachers by providing resources and trainings to encourage understanding of diversity. The Committee consults with the staff and board as needed regarding the center’s social, fundraising, enrollment, and hiring functions. The Committee supports the Director in maintaining racial diversity in enrollment.
In the past, the committee obtained a grant to expand the Sunnyside library with books representing different cultures and traditions. The committee regularly sponsors parent workshops on how to talk with children about differences. It stays in touch with families through an e-mail suggestion box and the program newsletter.
Developed for NAEYC's Engaging Diverse Families Project through a generous grant from the Picower Foundation.