Hoyer cel­e­brates suc­cess of Judy Cen­ters

Hoyer joins com­mu­nity of­fi­cials, friends to cel­e­brate late wife’s ded­i­ca­tion to early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES Twit­ter: @JClink_En­qGaz

Hon­or­ing the legacy of his late wife while rec­og­niz­ing the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships that helped es­tab­lish Judy Cen­ters through­out Mary­land, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) joined over 50 com­mu­nity of­fi­cials and friends for a Ju­dith P. Hoyer Foun­da­tion cel­e­bra­tion lun­cheon on June 27 at Martin’s Cross­winds in Green­belt.

Ju­dith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ters, or Judy Cen­ters, are named af­ter the late Ju­dith P. Hoyer, an early child­hood ad­vo­cate and su­per­vi­sor of early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion for Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic Schools. In 1993, with the open­ing of the Early Child­hood and Fam­ily Learn­ing Cen­ter in Adel­phi, Judy brought to life an in­no­va­tive vi­sion for hous­ing ed­u­ca­tional and other com­mu­nity ser­vices in one build­ing. This unique ap­proach pro­vided col­lab­o­ra­tion among spe­cial­ists in var­i­ous pro­grams to bet­ter serve chil­dren and their fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to a fact sheet from the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion web­site.

For­mer Mary­land State Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Nancy Gras­mick, who at­tended col­lege with Hoyer’s wife, said the Judy Cen­ters are worth in­vest­ing in es­pe­cially be­cause of its sus­tain­abil­ity and ded­i­ca­tion to im­prov­ing the lives of young chil­dren, who are of­ten atrisk, and their fam­i­lies.

“I at­tended col­lege with Judy Hoyer and we were a real mi­nor­ity group be­liev­ing in early child­hood, not defin­ing it as only kin­der­garten but be­low that,” Gras­mick said. “Judy Hoyer made her mark in Prince Ge­orge’s County in cre­at­ing this early child­hood cen­ter and hav­ing the in­te­gra­tion of all the sup­port­ing ser­vices whether they were hu­man re­sources, so­cial ser­vices, health, GED train­ing for young par­ents who didn’t have a high school di- ploma. She made it a re­al­ity and as peo­ple saw that re­al­ity, there was this hunger and thirst to repli­cate it in other parts of the state.”

Af­ter Hoyer’s death in 1997, Judy Cen­ters be­gan open­ing across the state with state grant funds pro­vided by the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to carry out her legacy. Judy Cen­ters are unique be­cause they pro­vide ac­cess to early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and fam­ily sup­port pro­grams lo­cated at or near Ti­tle I schools. Typ­i­cally, ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties and sup­port ser­vices are avail­able seven to 12 hours a day, year round, the fact sheet also noted.

“We have fol­lowed the suc­cess of this be­cause be­cause the ques­tion is al­ways, ‘What are the out­comes?’ And peo­ple thought that, ‘Oh it’s great while these chil­dren are young but it won’t be sus­tained,” Gras­mick said. “These chil­dren who par­tic­i­pate in Judy Cen­ters, who are of­ten the most at-risk chil­dren, it is sus­tained through third grade and on to fifth grade. We have ev­i­dence of that and it’s the best in­vest­ment we can make.”

In ad­di­tion, the cen­ters help in­crease the num­ber of chil­dren en­ter­ing school ready to learn by pro­mot­ing school readi­ness through col­lab­o­ra­tion with com­mu­nity-based agen­cies, or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses.

Libby Doggett, deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for pol­icy and early learn­ing at the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, said of all the states that have out­stand­ing early ed­u­ca­tion, Mary­land is the first to come to mind be­cause of high-qual­ity pro­grams like the Judy Cen­ters.

“I think Mary­land has got­ten it right,” said Doggett. “I didn’t know Judy but I knew of her and her rep­u­ta­tion and I think the Judy Cen­ters is just an em­bod­i­ment of what is im­por­tant—it’s early child­hood and fam­ily en­gage­ment. If you get kids off to a good start, they’re go­ing to do great in the K-12 sys­tem.”

Judy Cen­ter pro­grams foster young chil­dren’s phys­i­cal, so­cial, lin­guis­tic and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties — skills that help chil­dren be­come ac­com­plished learn­ers and stu­dents. An im­por­tant re­quire­ment of Judy Cen­ters is that all early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams must meet na­tional or state stan­dards of high qual­ity, the fact sheet noted.

“[Ju­dith] was a really unique per­son. She had this ded­i­ca­tion to chil­dren, which was ev­i­dent, but she also be­gan to look at the root causes,” said Gras­mick. “She looked at the struc­ture of the fam­i­lies, she looked at what the com­mu­nity could of­fer and she saw the po­ten­tial of in­te­grat­ing all of this which really didn’t ex­ist any­where else. She took that leap of faith and peo­ple were amazed at the suc­cess of it.”

All early child­hood staff par­tic­i­pates in ex­ten­sive staff devel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties. Work­ing with chil­dren birth to 3 years of age also al­lows Judy Cen­ters to iden­tify chil­dren with de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays or other spe­cial needs. This is ex­tremely im­por­tant be­cause early in­ter­ven­tion can give a child and his fam­ily the ser­vices and sup­port nec­es­sary to en­sure that by the time the child en­ters school, they can de­velop to his or her po­ten­tial, ac­cord­ing to the fact sheet.

Each Judy Cen­ter staff per­son is trained to know and un­der­stand the avail­able ser­vices that can be de­liv­ered by the agen­cies, or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses in their com­mu­nity. They not only con­nect fam­i­lies to the ap­pro­pri­ate com­mu­nity part­ners when needs are iden­ti­fied, but fol­low the fam­i­lies’ progress and en­sure they are re­ceiv­ing and re­spond­ing to the ser­vices as well.

“Judy Cen­ter staff work very hard ev­ery day,” State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion Early Ed­u­ca­tion and Judy Cen­ter Part­ner­ship Spe­cial­ist Cheryl DeAt­ley said. “We are ad­vo­cat­ing for chil­dren and fam­i­lies faced with the most chal­leng­ing of sit­u­a­tions. The staff are com­mit­ted, ef­fec­tive and re­silient.”

With 52 Judy Cen­ters serving ap­prox­i­mately 12,000 young chil­dren who live in 39 el­e­men­tary school zones across Mary­land, DeAt­ley said there’s no room for a pro­gram that’s medi­ocre. That’s why the cen­ters are mon­i­tored on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and are re­quired to meet 12 com­po­nent stan­dards. They must also in­te­grate at least five com­mu­nity part­ners — in­clud­ing Head Start, fam­ily sup­port cen­ters, healthy fam­i­lies, pub­lic li­braries, child care re­source cen­ters and early child­hood pro­grams as­so­ci­ated with col­leges or uni­ver­si­ties — into their ac­tiv­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to the fact sheet.

“The MSDE role is to en­sure all 52 Judy Cen­ters are ef­fec­tive,” said DeAt­ley. “Hav­ing an en­gaged part­ner­ship that meets fre­quently is key to the de­liv­ery of the ser­vices. Our strength lies in the di­ver­sity of the ed­u­ca­tional and ex­pe­ri­en­tial back­grounds of the staff.”

To­day, the pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties of­fered through the Judy Cen­ters, which were writ­ten into Mary­land law in May 2000, re­flect his late wife’s vi­sion of how pro­fes­sion­als must col­lab­o­rate to in­te­grate a wide spec­trum of early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams and fam­ily sup­port ser­vices, Hoyer said.

“Our job is to care about all of us. We’re in this to­gether,” Hoyer said. “Judy was com­mit­ted to this work not only be­cause she wanted to make cer­tain that chil­dren are well pre­pared to learn in el­e­men­tary school, but be­cause she also be­lieved, very strongly, that chil­dren who are cared about grow up to be adults who, in turn, care about oth­ers and help build stronger com­mu­ni­ties.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) gives re­marks at a cel­e­bra­tion lun­cheon on June 27 in honor of the legacy of his late wife, Ju­dith P. Hoyer, and her com­mit­ment to early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion. The event, held at Martin’s Cross­winds in Green­belt, cel­e­brated the part­ner­ships and con­tri­bu­tions that helped make Ju­dith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ters suc­cess­ful in Mary­land over the years. There are cur­rently 52 Judy Cen­ters in the state which foster young chil­dren’s phys­i­cal, so­cial, lin­guis­tic and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties — skills that help chil­dren be­come ac­com­plished learn­ers and stu­dents.

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