United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona’s Early Learning Center (ELC) is a high quality developmentally appropriate learning environment serving children ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age with and without disabilities. Although most of the children at the ELC are developing without delays, 30% of the children have physical and/or cognitive delays that may related to a disability. This unique environment promotes growth in all the children at the ELC. The children with disabilities are challenged by peer modeling of developmental skills by their classmates. The children without disabilities learn acceptance and understanding of others who are different from themselves through opportunities for friendship. The ELC’s inclusive environment sets the program apart by fostering empathy at an early age, preparing all the children socially and emotionally with invaluable life skills.

The ELC has low staff to children ratios to allow children to be engaged in learning opportunities within age and developmentally appropriate groups. The ELC strives to stay with in the following ratios:

  • Infant Room:  4 infants to 1 adult
  • One- Year- Old Room: 5 children to 1 adult
  • Two- Year- Old Room: 7 children to 1 adult
  • Preschool Room: 10 children to 1 adult

As the UCP ELC staff is knowledgeable in child development, each child is placed in the appropriate classroom not only according to age but ability. Children are routinely screened using the following assessment tools: Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ) and Teaching Strategies Gold. In addition, through collaboration with UCP’s early intervention program and clinic therapy program, ELC staff has other professionals to collaborate and consult with. The clinic therapy team provides opportunity for additional developmental screening for the three younger classrooms and an early handwriting screening for the Preschool annually for families who are interested.  Some children attending the ELC are able to receive feeding, occupational, speech, and physical therapy during their program day. If the child has services through the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), the child may request to be seen before drop off or after pick up for the caregiver to attend.

The staff in the UCP ELC is highly qualified, trained and dedicated to ensure the highest level of care and education for each child. Several ELC staff has been at UCP for several years and have children who do or have participated in the UCP Early Intervention, clinic therapy and/or the ELC programs, creating a unique family-oriented atmosphere.  Staff is trained to provide the children with various age appropriate activities that engage the children and facilitate learning opportunities. The children are encouraged to learn through play. Classroom activities encourage peer to peer interactions and foster social-emotional growth and development. The classrooms and play areas have been designed for safety and to ensure a healthy environment for the children. Our playground and classrooms are accessible according to American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide opportunities for all children to have the ability to participate. Trees cover the grounds and the Preschool area has a garden that the children can learn about growing plants. The UCP ELC is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The UCP Early Learning Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Quality First and licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services.  The ELC is also a participant in Empower Plus Program.

NAEYC

The National Association for the Education of Young Children is a professional organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research.

NAEYC accreditation is the gold standard for early childhood programs across the country. Families of young children who attend NAEYC accredited programs can be confident that they deliver the highest quality early care and education.  For families that means a higher standard for the credentials of staff in the classrooms, on-going training of classroom staff, lower ratios between classroom teachers and children and continuity of care with less shifting of teachers between classrooms.

NAEYC Accreditation helps parents find the best possible early childhood experience for their children. NAEYC-Accredited programs must:

  • Promote positive relationships for all children and adults to encourage each child’s sense of individual worth.
  • Implement a curriculum that fosters all areas of child development: cognitive, emotional, language, physical, and social. Use developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches.
  • Provide ongoing assessments of each child’s learning and development and communicate the child’s progress to the family.
  • Promote the nutrition and health of children and protect children and staff from illness and injury.
  • Employ and support a teaching staff that has the educational qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment necessary to promote children’s learning and development and to support families’ diverse interests and needs.
  • Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with each child’s family.
  • Establish relationships with and use the resources of the community to support achievement of program goals. Provide a safe and healthy physical environment.
  • Implement strong personnel, fiscal, and program management policies so that all children, families, and staff have high-quality experiences.

Quality First

Quality First is a signature program of First Things First whom partners with child care and preschool providers to improve the quality of early learning for kids birth to 5 across Arizona. Quality child care and preschool programs build on basic health and safety to include:

1. Teachers who know how to work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers,

2. Learning environments that nurture the emotional, social, language and cognitive development of every child, and

3.Positive, consistent relationships that give young children the individual attention they need.

Empower Plus Program

Empower Plus requires nutritional standards for the children’s meals and promotes family dining so that children learn social skills during mealtime.

Learn more about the benefits of our Early Learning Center

EARLY LEARNING CENTER

Hours: Monday through Friday from 6:30 am – 6:00 pm year round.