In most cases, a childhood development center is one of two related things: a daycare-like facility that provides education along with childcare to young children or an institute devoted to the early education of children with known or suspected developmental disabilities. Centers in both categories are typically catered to children too young for regular school programs. Attendance fees are usually steeper than strict daycare, in part to underwrite the teaching and educational materials used in the center’s classrooms. Some centers designed for disabled children are publicly funded, but they, too, often have at least some cost attached.
The most basic childhood development center is essentially an expansion on the standard daycare model. In a daycare situation, children are cared for, fed, and entertained until parents can pick them up, but education is rarely a component. Education is a hallmark for a childhood development center. Children in these programs are not only looked after, but are also taught basic lessons.
Curriculum programs in childhood development centers usually focuses on early childhood development skills, including color and shape recognition and vocabulary building. Depending on the scope of the program, middle childhood development skills, including letter identification and reading skills, may also factor in. Childhood development resources are usually specifically geared towards the individual students.
Most of these centers are staffed by at least one childhood development professional: that is, a person with a childhood development degree. Such a professional is trained to do far more than simply look after young children. He or she is an expert in understanding how children learn and is able to implement that expertise directly into the center’s daily agenda. A center with a person like this on staff is usually able to justify high tuition rates. As such, these kinds of centers are more common in affluent areas where parents are able and willing to pay for this sort of “enhanced” daycare.
Programs designed for children with developmental struggles often work on a similar model, but are more specialized. This type of childhood development center typically functions as a daycare-type service, but the main goal is rehabilitation more than it is childcare. Many of these programs incorporate parents into the learning process, and some also extend programs until well after a child has started school. Tutors or counselors at a childhood development center of this sort will often help older children with homework problems, study skills, and social adjustment issues.
Professionals who staff centers for struggling children are usually experts on a variety of learning and developmental disabilities. They must usually be familiar with all stages of childhood development, and must understand how that development is impacted by different disabilities. In some communities, national or local governments provide access to these resources. Other times, they are offered through community health organizations, universities, or private foundations. Some are free, but most operate on a fee-per-child basis.