Child & Family is private non-profit human and health service agency that has proudly served children, families, and seniors throughout Rhode Island since 1866.

Welcome back to the Inside Scoop!  Spring has finally sprung here in Newport, just in time for our third installment of our monthly blog, where we introduce you to the hard working people that make us who we are.

In this month’s edition, we sit down with Patty Carbone, Director of Sandpipers Early Learning Center. She tells us about her quality daycare program and shares some advice for new parents.

Q: What types of service do you offer through Sandpipers?

A: Sandpipers Early Learning Center is a high quality, early care and education center.  We service children and families from 6 weeks of age to 5 years old.  Typically our clients come to us when they have new babies, and it’s our job to keep them safe, happy and to educate them until they go to kindergarten.  We offer full and part day,  year-round programming,  so that families can go to work or school knowing  that their child is safe and in good hands.

Q: What is a typical day like?

A: We open at 6:45 in the morning and provide high quality programming throughout the day until 5:30pm.   We use the early morning drop off as a time for the children to wake up and adjust to their day.  Between 8:00 and 8:30 it is very casual and relaxed as more children and staff are arriving.  Then we get ready for our breakfast so that all the children start their day with a healthy full belly.  After breakfast, the children are in their separate classrooms doing a variety of different things.  The babies have their own schedule which includes feeding and changing times, music and story time, and physical activities to help their muscle develop (like tummy time).  For the older children ages 1 through Pre-K, there are a variety of fun learning activities scheduled.  Daily schedules include small group, large group, independent opportunities, teacher directed and child initiated learning opportunities for all children.  We want children to grow, learn and feel great.  Our activities promote positive growth and development in children.  At Sandpipers, we also believe that outdoor playtime is as important to the curriculum as the indoor classroom activities!

Q: What is the most enjoyable part of your workday?

A: This is my 30th year in the field and I have done all of the jobs there are in working in a child care center.  My passion continues because of the relationships I develop with the families.  At this point in my career it is the relationships I have with the parents that I love most. Knowing that I am a resource to them, and having my finger on the pulse in this community and the greater Providence community is something that drives me in my work as a leader in this field. I love that I am able to be their mediator in sharing what parents really need in this community.

Q: In three words, describe what working with children is like.

A: Fabulous, happiness, and it’s just all around goodness.  Yes, there are difficult moments, but I never focus on the challenging parts, I just focus on the positive and keep moving forward!

Q: What is the ultimate goal of the Sandpipers Early Learning Center?

A: We are here to support families who are working or who are in school so that their children have a high quality early care and education experience.  The children have a safe place where teachers and caregivers love them and nurture them.  We teach them and help them grow and develop as they should, while building a strong foundation for future learning.

Q: What are you most proud of in regards to the program?

A: You can see my smile.  The minute I start talking about the work that I do my passion is everywhere.  I am most proud of how hard we have worked to make positive changes right within this center.  We have really maximized all of the resources that we have, and I think the parents are really happy with what is happening here; actually I don’t think that, I know that!

Q: How can the community get involved?

A: When I talk to colleagues, I feel like we are the luckiest childcare center because of the support we have through our volunteer and intern program. Right now, we have 20 interns who help our classroom teachers and assistants.  Thanks to them our staff-to-child ratios are higher than required. This allows teachers to focus on children in smaller groups and we know that’s what works best!  We love to have the community come in and we are constantly looking for ideas in regards to offering enrichment programs.  That has always been a part of what I love to do here.

Q: What are some of your favorite events?

A: I believe that one of our strongest programmatic areas is family engagement.  Our best and most well attended event is our Literacy Night.  The event stresses the importance of reading and literacy in a child’s life.  We invite parents and community members to come in and read to our children because reading is one of the easiest ways for them to learn.  This year’s theme was a Fiesta. We had contests including who can read the most books to children and what classroom had the best decorated door.  The night included a healthy dinner with the children and their families and concluded with a book fair.  The proceeds from the book fair go right back into our libraries, so that we can purchase new books for our children.

Q: What can we catch you doing on an off day?

A: Oh I have a 5 year old!  If we are not in the snow making a snowman, we are avid baseball fans, football fans, and we love the outdoors.  We are also swimmers and we all love to get in the pool when we can.  I am very family oriented. Along with my 5 year old son, I have two grown daughters who are very involved.  I think one of our favorite places to be when we are not at school or at home is the beach, even in the winter.

Q: What’s the best advice you can give to parents who might be reading our blog?

A: I want them to educate themselves on what high quality early care and education is and how it benefits their young children. I want them to learn how important their role is in these early years, especially when their child is enrolled in a school setting such as Sandpipers.  I recommend they check out more than one place when considering enrolling them in a school.  They should talk to their friends and find out what good experiences they are having. They need to find a place that feels good to them.  The philosophy of the center should match their way of child rearing and incorporate things that are important to them as parents and as a family.  Connecting to the staff and working in a partnership with the center is critical to the success children and families will have at this age.  My wish for all families raising young children is to spend time with one another and have fun!   The early years go by so fast.  Being together, playing together and having fun along the way is what I truly believe creates the solid foundation children need to become the very best that they can be!

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