UNT Health Science Center and Lena Pope announce new partnership


UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) and Lena Pope have teamed up to expand access to high-quality early learning experiences for children and families in Fort Worth with a new on-campus child development center.

Lena Pope’s new Early Learning Center will serve the children of UNTHSC staff and students, as well as families from the community. Set to open in summer 2018, the new facility will also prioritize 50 percent of available enrollment for children from low-income families.

The on-campus child development center is part of UNTHSC’s Best Place for All initiative to create programs, policies and a work environment that increase team member satisfaction and engagement. It also helps fulfill Lena Pope’s goal of expanding access to high-quality early learning experiences for local children and families regardless of income.

“Our goal is to become one of the top places to work in all of Fort Worth, and having affordable, high-quality care for the children of our staff and students is an important step on that journey,” said Dr. Michael Williams, president of UNTHSC. “We selected Lena Pope because of the agency’s proven history of providing quality education, as well as their mission and values.”

Like Lena Pope’s existing Early Learning Center, which is nationally accredited, the new UNTHSC center will use an evidence-based academic curriculum and social-emotional learning model to achieve exceptional education outcomes for children. Classrooms will be led by degreed teachers. All meals, including breakfast, lunch and two snacks daily, will be prepared on-site and served family-style to provide a learning opportunity for students. Operating hours of 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. have been established to meet the needs of working parents. For lower-income families, sliding scale fees will be available.

Creation of the new Center is particularly relevant as Fort Worth leaders ramp-up efforts to improve educational outcomes for young children, including kindergarten readiness and reading competency by third grade. Access to quality early learning opportunities is critical to achieving both. Yet availability of quality programs and the high-cost of child care often hinder access.

“Providing quality and accessible childcare is one of the most critical workforce issues in the United States,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.  “UNTHSC is a pioneer in Fort Worth, responding to a need among their students and employees for high-quality childcare, which is an area of expertise for Lena Pope. This partnership exemplifies the best of Fort Worth, bringing together two renowned institutions to provide more local children an ideal educational foundation.  This is a model we need to see replicated throughout the city, and I will do my part to build on their success.”

The Center will be located at 3620 Modlin Avenue, Fort Worth. It will occupy an existing building that is currently undergoing renovations to meet the specific needs of a high-quality early learning program. UNTHSC and Lena Pope are sharing the estimated $450,000 renovation cost. UNTHSC raised $30,000 toward its share of the renovations from employee donations during its 2016 Internal Giving Campaign. Donor opportunities to help fund the new center are available through Lena Pope.

Lena Pope’s current Early Learning Center received the Editor’s Choice Award for Best of Child Care from Fort Worth, Texas magazine in 2016, and has attained accreditation by The National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs. Less than 11 percent of early childhood education programs in the nation receive the designation.

“We’re pleased this partnership provides a vital service that will allow us to continue helping create hope, happiness and success for families in our community,” said Todd Landry, CEO of Lena Pope.

About Lena Pope

Lena Pope’s mission is to help create hope, happiness and success for children and families. The agency provides mental health, substance use treatment and family support services. It also operates Chapel Hill Academy, an open-enrollment and tuition-free public charter school for more than 500 elementary students in Fort Worth, and an Early Learning Center that provides quality early learning opportunities for children ages six weeks to five years. For more information, visit lenapope.org.

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