CFNC’s history and mission: CFNC was started in 1984 by a group of mothers living in a public housing community in Alexandria, Virginia after they learned that seven of their children failed kindergarten. From that modest beginning, CFNC has continuously grown both the reach and depths of its programs in response to community need. Currently, nearly 200 children and their families benefit from CFNC's comprehensive programs, which are all designed to support the mission to provide caring, high-quality, free early childhood education and related services to at-risk children and their families in their own neighborhoods in order to prepare them for success in school and life.
CFNC’s current programs and activities: CFNC operates 10 preschool classrooms that together serve 172 children and their families living in Alexandria’s and Arlington’s poorest neighborhoods. For many area children, poverty and limited English proficiency threaten to derail their education before it has begun. However, free, high-quality preschool, such as CFNC, can reverse this trend and put kids on track to thrive in school. CFNC provides the following services, free of charge: (1) Early Childhood Education:CFNC preschools are fully accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and all teachers implement the High/Scope curriculum, which is nationally recognized as especially effective for at-risk children in multicultural settings. The Child Observation Record (COR) and Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) are used to monitor children’s progress. Children are screened for developmental delays and receive therapy as needed. Lending libraries are in each classroom and collaborative activities with the public schools help parents continue to be involved in their children’s education after they complete our program. (2) Family Support Services: Three bilingual social workers support parents as they work toward self-sufficiency and gain parenting skills to support their children’s education. Counseling, case management, home visits, social skills groups, financial literacy classes, job referrals, a mother’s group and a variety of workshops are provided on-site to further empower our families. CFNC’s Family Literacy Program includes English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. (3) Health Services: CFNC’s Health Services enable parents to support the healthy development of their children and access community-based services, while ensuring that children enter kindergarten having completed the appropriate physicals, vaccinations and medical screenings.
In school year 2012/2013, CFNC students living at or below 185% of poverty demonstrated a developmental growth more than twice that of the national average, and over one hundred children with little to no English exposure improved their proficiency by almost two levels. All of CFNC’sparents successfully achieved at least one goal that improved their parenting skills, home environment, employability and/or English acquisition. Dental, hearing and vision screenings were provided in all of CFNC’s classrooms and students who required further treatment were referred to specialists.
CFNC families are diverse, coming from 20 different countries and speaking 9 different languages. In FY2013, 100% of families were eligible for free/reduced-priced meals per the USDA and 75% of parents have not completed high school. Additionally, 80% of families speak English as a second language, 84% of families are Hispanic/Latino, 12% are African American, 3% are Asian and 1% are White. ESL enrollment includes 51 students who mirror a similar ethnic breakdown; and our preschool waiting list routinely exceeds 140 families.
Our recent strategic plan uncovered a picture of extraordinary need in Alexandria’s West End. Over 2,600 children ages zero to six live below 200% of the poverty line, with less than 700 available preschool slots and only 300 of those free and accessible. CFNC's new blueprint, which was developed as a result of our strategic plan, will serve approximately 200 children most at- risk of failing kindergarten (this includes our 10 existing classrooms and new West End classrooms serving 32 to 56 children).
CFNC’s comprehensive programs provide the disadvantaged children and families of the community what they need the most: quality preschool and support services to build a successful future. There are hundreds of children in Alexandria who remain at-risk for school failure while waiting for our services. Without the financial support from community members, like you, these underserved children won’t get the start they need to thrive.