OSSINING, N.Y. – Howard Milbert, executive director of the Ossining Children’s Center, is challenging Westchester County legislators to preserve $7 million in early childhood education funding that provides affordable services and programs for low- and middle-income families.
The center’s programs go way beyond “babysitting” and enrich the lives of the students and their families, Milbert said.
“Early childhood care can make a difference in a child’s life, it can improve a child’s IQ and that is what we are all about,” he said.
The center was established in 1895 as some women were forced to go to work after the deaths of their husbands, who were working on the railroads during the westward expansion.
Today, the center is a certified preschool that serves 155 to 180 children each day and works with the county and the Ossining Board of Education to provide scholarships for affordable tuition to lower- and middle-income families, Milbert said.
The center offers an infant and toddler, prekindergarten and first to sixth grade programs and accepts children as young as 8 weeks and up to 12 years old.
The center also offers special education services, Milbert said, as well as an English as a second language program. It has a social worker and a ratio of one teacher for every two students.
“We are very lucky to have a wonderful, educated staff,” Milbert said.
The center also offers summer programs with outdoor activities such as swimming and field trips to museums and musical performances. In addition, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the center for free.
With the use of grants, the center this year is teaching piano to students, which he said not only gives them a greater appreciation of music but also helps with their math skills.
Milbert said he is pleased to see the kids get a good start in their education.
“The satisfaction for me is making a difference in the children’s lives and in the community,” he said.
But “child care is under attack,” Milbert said, with a $7 million cut in the county budget. Those funds pay for subsidies to needy families, he said.
“Without the funding, the costs of those programs would double,” he said.
The center recently had a Festive Stroll fundraiser and is holding a Christmas and toy drive later this month, Milbert said.
“Westchester administrators do not want to raise taxes, but education cuts are not the way to do it. Child care should come first,” he said.
For more information about the Children's Center visit us at http://www.ossiningchildrenscenter.org/
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