Program will Provide Childcare, Development Services for Working Families
Open House Event to Celebrate Center Opening
Responding to the needs of Anchorage’s working families, the new Clare Swan Early Head Start Center opening March 1 will provide eligible Alaska Native and American Indian families a safe and supportive learning environment for comprehensive early childhood development and childcare services for children six weeks to three years of age.
The full-time childcare center will serve more than 70 infants and toddlers and their families for up to 10 hours per day, year-round. The center will host an open house event Friday afternoon to commemorate the program’s launch.
Located in the former Kogi restaurant at 800 Northway Drive in east Anchorage, the Clare Swan Center will operate through a partnership between Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) and Anchorage Vineyard Family Resource Center to provide a high quality, early developmental learning environment, including meals, developmental assessments and a culturally rich curriculum with one teacher for every four children.
A nine-month renovation transformed the former restaurant space into a new childcare and development center, with Cook Inlet Housing Authority serving as project manager.
Promoting individualized support and nurturing for a child's early development while working with parents and families in becoming self-sufficient, stable and life-long advocates for their children are primary tenets of the center.
“We’re creating something that’s intended to go beyond just quality, affordable childcare,” explained Deb Northburg, CITC’s director for Child and Family Services. “The Head Start center will be a place for parents to connect with each other as peers and get excited about their children’s development, growth, health and safety.”
The center also represents a larger collaboration with CITC and its programming for job preparation, education and family services. “With the power of CITC’s existing services available to us,” explained CITC family services manager Connie Wirz, “we’re able to provide a solid safety net for families who need it and work with parents one-on-one. When we have families at a higher level of need, we have a ready referral place.”
The center’s programs will also focus on early identification, treatment and promotion of health and wellness issues to ensure children are engaged in learning—a critical part of school-readiness activities.
Additionally, through funding for a Language Nest Grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), the new center and Cook Inlet Native Head Start will offer three Yup’ik language immersion classes—the first of their kind in Anchorage.