(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that Bright Beginnings (BBI), a community organization with a long history of providing high-quality comprehensive services to young children and families who are furthest from opportunity, will be the infant and toddler care provider at Thaddeus Stevens Early Learning Center in Ward 2. The Bowser Administration is transforming the former Stevens School into a District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) early learning center with pre-K3 and pre-K4 classes, as well as a child care center for infants and toddlers ages 0 to 3.
“It is particularly rewarding that with this first learning center, we are returning Stevens School to the community as a facility serving our youngest learners,” said Mayor Bowser. “The Stevens Learning Center represents both our commitment to families as well as our commitment to equity. Demand has grown for high-quality child care and early education opportunities, and through this partnership with Bright Beginnings and many others, that is exactly what we are delivering across all eight wards.”
The Thaddeus Stevens Early Learning Center will be the first school in Washington, DC to pilot a preference in the My School DC Lottery for families meeting the District’s “at-risk” definition. The Stevens Priority Seat Preference will set aside seats in the lottery for families that are found eligible for this preference. The goal of this citywide program will be to increase overall pre-K3 and pre-K4 capacity in a growing area, build DCPS’ capacity to serve young learners with special needs, and provide an opportunity to cultivate a socioeconomic- and ability-diverse school community.
“The reopening of the Stevens School as a DCPS early learning center offers us a unique chance to serve more students from birth through graduation,” said DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “I am thrilled that we are partnering with Bright Beginnings to provide our youngest learners and their families with a strong foundation, and I am proud we are piloting a policy that seeks to provide greater equity of access and diversity among our students.”
DCPS selected BBI because of their success in providing high-quality early childhood and family services for children and families experiencing homelessness. BBI’s focus on equity and providing the city’s youngest learners with joyful and nurturing learning environments is aligned with DCPS’ mission, vision, and classroom practices. BBI also has a strong model of trauma-informed practice, supporting children with multiple and varied strengths and needs. DCPS is confident that BBI’s curriculum will allow for a smooth transition into pre-K3 and pre-K4, and that they can provide an array of family supports including workforce development services, therapeutic services, and parenting education programming.
“Bright Beginnings is honored to have been identified to partner with DCPS as the infant and toddler care provider at Stevens School, serving children ages birth to three,” said Bright Beginnings Executive Director Dr. Marla Dean. “Bright Beginnings has been committed over the last 30 years to ensuring that all children and their families have what they need to thrive.”
BBI currently provides services at no cost to eligible infants and toddlers at two locations through a combination of OSSE child care subsidies and Early Head Start funding. BBI has applied for additional Early Head Start funding in order to provide child care and related services at no cost to families at Stevens Early Learning Center. DCPS will keep families updated as the district moves forward in selecting a school leader and infant and toddler care enrollment, which is separate from the My School DC Lottery.
Mayor Bowser continues to make historic investments in education, including $52 million to expand child care and early childhood education opportunities at three former schools – Old Randle Highlands, Old Miner, and Thurgood Marshall. Families can learn more about the Thaddeus Stevens Early Learning Center and Bright Beginnings at EdFEST on Saturday, December 14, at Stadium Armory, between 11 am and 3 pm.