Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD) announced today that it will open a new early education and care center in the Harbor Point Apartments community at the site previously occupied by UMass Boston’s Early Learning Center.
The new center adds to the array of children’s services that the BGCD provides in the area, including a program already in operation at Harbor Point.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to expand our early education programs into the Harbor Point community. Our current site in Harbor Point, Walter Denney Youth Center, serves children ages 5 to 18. We have experienced tremendous success in the community and the partnership has been strong. We are truly appreciative of the continuous support shown to us by the Corcoran Jennison Companies and the Harbor Point Community Task Force,” said Bob Scannell, president and CEO of BGCD.
The BGCD’s child care center will be located in the space that previously served as the home of UMass Boston’s Early Learning Center (ELC), which closed at the end of last year because of the university’s need to erase a $30 million budget deficit. Additionally, over the years, enrollment trends at the ELC shifted with fewer children coming from the UMass Boston community and more from Harbor Point and nearby neighborhoods.
The new center, which will be located at 2 Harbor Point Boulevard, is expected to open by early spring.
BGCD has spent recent months planning with the Harbor Point Task Force and other relevant parties to create a program that will ensure families continue to have access to a high-quality early education and care experience. The new program will open under the BGCD umbrella of services.
“I’m very pleased that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester has decided to establish a child care center at Harbor Point. This decision is consistent with its mission and ensures that quality care will continue to be available at Harbor Point,” said UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Barry Mills. “It complements services the organization already offers and extends the reach of a group that is an acknowledged leader in its field.”
“We continually seek ways to bring high-quality services to the Harbor Point community that benefit and meet the diverse needs of our families,” said Michael Corcoran, president of Corcoran Jennison Companies, co-owner of Harbor Point Apartments. “Engaging the families in our community includes a collective effort, with youth-service providers, the local schools, and community members working alongside the families in concentrated ways, helping to support their children’s development. We look forward to Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester’s expansion of early education into Harbor Point. The early childhood education center, the existing afterschool programming and the robust enrichment programs offered support our efforts to strengthen community and family connections and provide a cradle-to-college education pathway for our youngest residents.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester engages 4,000 youths in over 200 programs each year that include art, education, music, film, career preparation, character and leadership development, health and life skills, athletics, aquatics, social recreation, and early childhood education. In addition to the overall high-quality services provided to young people, BGCD stands out because of the Early Education and Care Programs it offers. The Early Education and Care programs offer high-quality, affordable infant, toddler and preschool options for our families, welcoming children of all backgrounds and abilities. It’s an environment in which every child can succeed.
Both nationally and internationally recognized, these programs address multiple domains of development—academic, social-emotional, and physical—to ensure children are growing in all the ways that enable them to be healthy and ready to enter traditional school at five years old.
“We commend the university’s focus on seeking a quality provider to enter the space and provide continuity of early education services,” Scannell said.
A point of pride for BGCD has been its ability to offer families high-quality care from birth through 18 years via programs currently based in Savin Hill (Marr and McLaughlin sites). The relationships developed in the community and with these families are deep and meaningful. The ability to offer continuity of services has allowed BGCD to measure the positive effects of high-quality early education and care. BGCD looks forward to the opportunity to offer families who live and work in Harbor Point and on the peninsula programming similar to that currently offered in the Savin Hill sites—essentially serving children from toddlers through 18 years old.
The Early Learning Center was established in 1972 at UMass Boston’s original location in Park Square, was based on campus after the university moved to Columbia Point in 1974, and relocated to Harbor Point in 1991.
Said Mills: “The staff of the Early Learning Center provided invaluable service for more than four decades, and we are grateful for their contributions. The ELC touched and shaped many lives. We are heartened to learn that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester will carry this important work forward.”