CAMDEN — Fulfilling its promise to provide a comprehensive pipeline of support for Camden’s youngest children, the John S. and James L. Knight Early Learning Research Academy at Rutgers–Camden is ramping up its programming for infants and toddlers thanks to an infusion of funding from the John E. Morgan Foundation.
The Knight ELRA has received a $100,000 grant from the foundation that will fund curriculum that targets children from infancy through pre-school.
“There is a lack of quality early care in many urban areas,” says Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Rutgers University Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and founder of both the LEAP Academy University Charter School and the John S. and James L. Knight Early Learning Research Academy.
“Funding is scarce for infants and toddlers, but early care is critical,” Bonilla-Santiago says. “When these children go to preschool, or by the time they reach kindergarten, they are years behind due to a lack of social and emotional development. This funding is crucial to developing skills early in a child’s life.”
The funds will be used for classroom and instructional materials to develop the programmatic foundation for early-care curriculum, which includes the development of social, emotional, and motor skills for ELRA’s 124 infants and toddlers.
The curriculum is developed by Bright Horizons, Inc., which manages child care centers for many of the world’s leading corporations, hospitals, universities, and government agencies.
Funds will also provide resources for programs targeting nutrition and for parents to help build skills and knowledge at home.
“Many issues can develop from a lack of physical well-being and motor development, social and emotional development, and cognitive skills,” Bonilla-Santiago says.
Bonilla-Santiago says ELRA is also seeking funding that will allow for a longitudinal study of the growth and progress of the infants and toddlers over time. That research could be performed by a Rutgers–Camden faculty member. The Knight ELRA allows Rutgers professors to apply their scholarly research toward the societal and educational issues challenging successful childhood learning.
The Knight ELRA, located on Rutgers property on the 500 block of Cooper Street, opened its doors in September 2011.
Bonilla-Santiago says ELRA is part of the vision to create an educational pipeline in Camden in which a child who enrolls at ELRA continues on to LEAP Academy, and earns a degree from Rutgers.
“The pipeline runs right along Cooper Street,” she says. “And this funding allows those children to learn from infancy.”
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Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse