Fort Worth leaders praise new Early Learning Center at UNTHSC
By Alex Branch
Community leaders are hailing the opening of the Miles Foundation Early Learning Center, a partnership between UNT Health Science Center and Lena Pope, as a major step for high-quality, early childhood development in Fort Worth.
Mayor Betsy Price, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, State Sen. Konni Burton and Fort Worth City Councilman Brian Byrd were among the dignitaries who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the UNTHSC campus.
The Early Learning Center is a year-round, full-day center for more than 80 children ages six weeks to 5 years old. Half of the spots are available to low-income families at an affordable rate.
Mayor Price said the public-private partnership between UNTHSC and Lena Pope was typical of the way leaders in Fort Worth work together to remedy big problems, such as a lack of affordable, high-quality early learning for children of all economic backgrounds.
“The link between our workforce and early childhood learning is critical if we are to succeed as a community,” Mayor Price said. “Child care centers like this will shape our future.”
Opening an early learning center on campus was among the chief goals of the UNTHSC Best Place for All initiative, designed togrow a sustainable people culture by creating programs, policies and a work environment that increase team member satisfaction and engagement.
UNTHSC employees raised more than $30,000 to help fund the center through an internal giving campaign.
“It’s all about people,” said Michael R. Williams, DO, MD, UNTHSC President. “Our campus team made the Early Learning Center it’s number one priority.”
Studies show that early education helps children avoid special education interventions, lessens grade repetition and results in higher test scores. For each dollar invested in high-quality, early childhood programs, a state economy will earn a $2 to $3 return on investment, measured by increased jobs or earnings for state residents.
Todd Landry, EdD, Lena Pope CEO, noted during the ceremony that children’s laughter could be heard coming from the Early Learning Center playground.
“That’s exactly why we are here,” he said.