FALLS CHURCH, Va. (WUSA)-- Falls Church-McLean Children's Center has an average waitlist of two years. It may sound like a place for those who can pay full tuition for their two to five year olds, but actually it's much more than that.
"My daughter learned how to play with friends, how to help friends, and she learned academic things too," says Susana Coro, a parent and teacher at the Center.
Coro says the Center gives her daughter, Yadira, the ideal environment to get ready for school, especially when her family could not pay the full tuition, $1,400 a month.
Elizabeth Page, executive director, says the Center reserves over half of its enrollment to serving youngsters who qualify for subsidized tuition from Fairfax County.
"They're working but they cannot afford the high cost of child care and this is the only assistance most of our families get," Page says.
"It can be as little as five dollars a week up to 100 dollars a week, depending on their income and family size," Page says.
Affordable child care gives disadvantaged youngsters a chance to prepare under a quality learning environment, so they do not fall behind when they start school.
Page says, "It's really remarkable because children do change so quickly. Often when they come, they don't speak any English...But when they leave, they're fluent in English and they've been exposed to all of the opportunities to help them be prepared for Kindergarten."
The Center has not only benefited Yadira, it has also helped her mother who emigrated from Ecuador.
"I'm working at this center and I'm so happy because the tools and the skills they give us is very very good because we try to understand special kids when they need special needs," Coro says.
All the teachers have certifications or degrees in early childhood education. Occupational therapists and speech therapists are also available.
"If we're concerned about a child's development, we can have them evaluate it right here and they get the therapy they need right here," says Page.
Coro says specialists found a speech delay in her son. But after therapy, he's doing well in grade school.
Now with daughter Yadira attending the center, Coro has noticed that her little girl is looking forward to the classroom.
"When I say Yadira, you need to stay at home, she says 'NO! I need to go to my school my teachers are waiting for me!.' It's true! They're waiting for her," Coro says.
NOTE: The Gannett Foundation provided a donation to the Falls Church-McLean Children's Center.
Written by: Elizabeth Jia
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