HISTORY OF THE CHEMUNG COUNTY CHILD CARE COUNCIL, INC.
In the early seventies, a group of individuals, many representing early childhood agencies, met together to share information, plan joint trainings and promote quality child care in Chemung County. The original members represented Elmira College, Head Start, CIDS, Elmira Psychiatric Center, Pediatricians, Cope House, Catholic Charities, DSS, and Cooperative Extension. The group decided to become a more formal organization, wrote By-Laws, and named itself “The Chemung County Cooperative”. It modeled the organization on the Day Care and Child Development Council of Tompkins County. The first project was – The Gathering Place – a resource and material center for use by parents and child care providers.
The center, manned by volunteers, opened at Elmira College and was very successful. The center closed when Elmira College tore down the building where it was housed and the center opened again in the Lagonegro Human Services building under the auspice of Head Start (with funding from the Appalachian Regional Planning Commission) Head Start was under the Council of Churches at this time.
The Cooperative continued to sponsor and develop projects and enlarge its’ membership. Some of the added agencies were Family Court, Elmira City School District, YWCA, Glove House, BOCES, Family Services, ARC, Junior League, UCP, and League of Woman Voters.
Some of the more significant projects undertaken by the Cooperative from the 70’s through the 80’s include: Establishment of an Early Childhood Certificate Program at Elmira College, Annual Workshops on child care issues for parents and providers, advocacy sessions, legislative forums, conducting surveys to determine community child care needs, helping agencies implement programs such as a center at Bethany and the YWCA After School Program (then called Latch Key), and began a volunteer child care information and referral network.
In 1982, under the charge of Ellen Wohl then Head Start Director, Child Care Connection grew as an offshoot of Head Start. The first Family Day Care Training began along with the Caregiver’s Corner loan closet with funding from the City of Elmira. Child Care Connection continued to grow after receiving its first contract from Chemung County to certify day care homes and administer the child care subsidy program. Soon to follow were contracts from NYS to serve as the designated Child Care Resource and Referral agency for Chemung County and to administer the Child Adult Care Food Program.
Meanwhile the Cooperative incorporated in 1985 and changed its name to the Chemung County Child Care Council, Inc.
Staff from the Head Start/Child Care Connection began traveling to Albany to join others throughout the state that offered the same types of services. It became apparent that the services offered by Head Start/Child Care Connection were a much better fit under the Child Care Council. Discussions began in 1995 between the EOP Board of Directors and the Child Care Council Board of Directors. In 2000, after many thriving and exciting years being part of the EOP family, the EOP Board voted to release the staff, funding, services, and all materials to the Chemung County Child Care Council, Inc.
After a flurry of changing leases, contracts, policies and increasing the number of Board Members the agency was well on its way to independence. The agency moved from the Elmira Psychiatric Center to the Elmira Medical Arts Building attached to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
In 2004 the agency applied for and received a Family Day Care Network grant from NYSOCFS for a 3 year period which involved Career Planning, quality improvements, and resources for participating FDC homes.
The Anderson Foundation and Community Foundation have been significant local funders for several Council services including the Pre-School Assessment Project, Center Infant Crib Replacement, assistance with FDC provider state conference fees, Business Boxes for FDC providers to mention a few.
In 2005 the Council became a member of the School Readiness Project Steering Committee and launched the project with funding from the Community Foundation and Chemung County. The Council began a Wrap Around Program with funding from The Youth Bureau. An Infant/Toddler Center was started at and operated by the YWCA with funding through SRP. The Council utilized funding from the Appalachian Regional Planning Commission to support a group of Family Day Care Providers in their business operation.
In 2011/12 the agency in partnership with CIDS began the First Book Program for children visited by the CIDS Nurse Home Visitors. EATON funded the project which supplied 150 children with books they normally would not have access to. The agency also implemented a Cavity Free Kids Project, a NAPSAC project for prevention of childhood obesity.
In 2016 the Council moved to 1580 Lake Street-Suite 200, Elmira, NY. Currently the agency maintains some of the same contracts that were established in the 1980’s including County and State funding and funding from United Way.
The Council implemented the Early Literacy Program and opened the Elmira Family Resource Center in 2017. The Child Care Career Pipeline Program became a reality in 2019 and the agency added the Infant Toddler Mental Health Project in 2020. The agency continues to provide child care referrals, Child Adult Care Food Program, Child Care Assistance Program, Legally Exempt Enrollment, Registration of Family Day Care and School Age Programs, Professional Development for the Child Care Workforce, Infant Toddler Program, First Book Program and Employer Supports.
The common theme through the years that the Council continues to fight for include additional child care subsidy dollars so parents can obtain/retain employment, a quality trained well paid Early Care and Education Workforce and increased involvement by area employers.
The program services started in 1982 with a budget of a little over $14,000, and the agency now has an annual budget of around $1.5 million.