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CENTERPIECE
 





For Young, Working Parents: A Godsend in East Baltimore


At the end of a long day, resident Nishiena Gandhi picks up her son at the Johns Hopkins Child Care and Early Learning Center.

School for Tarik Vranka, age 2, starts at 6:30 a.m. Early mornings are hectic, says his mother, neurology resident Nishiena Gandhi. But once she drops him off at the Johns Hopkins Child Care and Early Learning Center at 98 N. Broadway, it’s smooth sailing.

“When he’s there, I’m very much at ease,” she says. “From comparing notes with other residents, I know that this child care center has taken all the details into account.”

Details such as the center’s lobby. Any visitor gets the message: Here, kids rule.

There’s a mama and baby bear plopped on the sofa. A brown toy dog hangs upside down over an armchair. If mothers have doubts about how to handle work and child care, here’s a well-thumbed copy of A Mother’s Guide to Life: Strategies, Secrets and Solutions by Linda Mason, chairman and cofounder of Bright Horizons Family Solutions.

Bright Horizons, an organization that manages more than 600 child care centers, including 84 for the Fortune 500, has operated the Hopkins center ever since it opened its doors in 2001. These days, demand is strong and the place is thriving, a godsend for young parents working in East Baltimore.

“Being a working parent is tough,” says Mary Ellen Diggory, the center’s director. “Parents struggle with the work-life balance, so if we can offer a quality center, then they feel confident when they leave their children and can concentrate on their work.”

The center, located in the Church Professional Building, is a brightly lit, 20,300-square-foot, two-story facility with both an indoor and outdoor playground. Exhibits of the children’s work and projects are proudly displayed in the plush but serviceable interior that is dotted with Lilliputian, blonde wooden tables and chairs. The children—112 infants to 5-year-olds—are treated to catered meals and snacks.

All this costs. Tuition ranges from $1,055 to $1,346 per month. Scholarships, based on income levels, are available for University and Hopkins Hospital employees, residents, fellows and students.

To prepare the children for school, Bright Horizons promotes learning through programs in language, math and science. The educational philosophy encourages children to take risks in learning without fearing that there is a right or wrong answer, explains Diggory. “We want a confident child who can say I can do this, I can learn this.”

Lydia Levis Bloch

Info: Mary Ellen Diggory, director, JH Child Care and Early Learning Center, 410-614-4111, or www.jhbrighthorizons.org.
 

 

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