The Carole Robertson Center operates three sites in the North Lawndale, Little Village, and Near West Side communities of urban Chicago.
Programs operate 15 hours each day. The Center serves more than 700 children, ranging in age from infancy through teenagers, and their families daily. In addition, the Center serves hundreds of adult learners and community program providers each year. Programs serve multicultural populations and are bilingual in English and Spanish. Current programs at the Carole Robertson Center include:
Early Childhood (Birth – 5 Years)
Infant Toddler Development Program
This program provides full-day, center-based care for children, ages 6 weeks to 3 years. The developmentally appropriate program provides safe and stimulating environments for young children to foster their social emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development. An emphasis is placed on responding to children’s natural cues, providing continuity of care, and building strong and consistent relationships between children, parents, and staff. The Creative Curriculum is utilized with The Learning Basket Approach as an enhancement. The program aligns with Early Head Start and Illinois Preschool For All standards.
Parent-Child Home Program
Serving families with children between 16 months and 3 years of age, families are visited in their homes twice a week for a two-year period. Each week the family receives a book or developmentally appropriate toy to keep. The same Home Visitor works with the family throughout the program and conducts the visits in the family’s home language. The program supports parents as their children’s first teachers and focuses on increasing verbal interactions between children and parents, positive parental involvement, and children’s language and pre-literacy development. Social service support and parent workshops also are provided.
Early Childhood Education Program
Created for children from 3 through 5 years old, the program promotes positive development and prepares children for future success in school. A mixture of creative programming helps children develop skills, confidence, and an enthusiasm for learning. Experiences in language, literacy, computers, math, science, music and art, nutrition and cooking, and outdoor play are provided. On-site special events and field trips occur regularly. The Creative Curriculum is utilized with a Project Approach and individualization for all children, including support for children with special needs. Nearly 90% of programming is full-day and year-long, with a traditional Half-Day Head Start model also offered. The program aligns with Head Start and Illinois Preschool For All standards.
Family Child Care Home Network
This program provides quality home-based care for children, ages 6 weeks through 5 years. Licensed providers offer infant, toddler, and early childhood care in small group, home settings following Early Head Start and Head Start standards. Activities are developmentally appropriate and allow infants and young children to explore their environment in a stimulating, nurturing, and safe setting. Providers and parents receive ongoing support, resources, networking, and guidance through the Carole Robertson Center’s network.
School Age and Youth (6 – 18 years)
The School Age Program serves children, ages 6 through 12, offering effective and comprehensive programming for children from kindergarten through the 6th grade. Children engage in a wide array of activities to foster positive development: fine arts, literature, computers, math and science, games, and sports. Long-term projects, cultural exploration, and leadership development are also included. Highlights include an annual awards program and a weeklong camping trip each August.
Youth Alternatives Program
This after school and evening program is for community youth, ages 10 through 18. The program provides educational, support, personal development, mentoring, social, and recreational activities for youth. Its focus is preventive, yet proactive, keeping youth engaged in a variety of constructive pursuits in a positive environment. Activities include academic support, leadership development, fine arts, social service support, organized sports, and field trips. The program creates avenues for youth to develop strengths, talents, leadership skills, a sense of community ownership, and an ethic of service within a supportive, yet challenging environment. Two service learning projects, two personal development and support projects, tutoring and mentoring, leadership development activities, and youth employment opportunities are provided.
Music education is designed to grow along with children and families. Through a partnership with the Old Town School of Folk Music, children, teachers, and parents have access to high quality music instruction. WiggleWorms, a music education program that serves children from birth to 3 years old, uses music as a means of exploring new sounds and promoting motor and pre-language skills. Preschool children enjoy longer sessions with an increased focus on literacy building and creative expression. Through the John Slater III Music and Arts Education Fund, school age children focus on basic musical elements such as rhythm and scales and have hands on experimentation with various musical instruments. School age children can also participate in the Center’s Brass and Percussion Ensemble, a very popular program addition. Parent workshops and staff training also support children's daily use of music. Workshops led by teachers from the Old Town School teach parents the songs that their children are learning in the classroom and inform parents about how best to use these songs in the home. Children's performances, on-site family concerts, and field trips to local performances are included. By providing children and families with access to music education, we lay the foundation for a lifetime of music appreciation.
Family Literacy Development Program
Spanning all child and youth development programs, this program provides literacy-building resources. It supports language development in infants, prepares young children for future success by nurturing them within a print-rich environment, and supports school age children and youth with tutoring and a variety of enriched learning experiences. The program links home and center with take-home and center-based family activities that encourage parents to be their children’s first and primary partners in learning. The Family Literacy Development Program is fully bilingual; computers and family lending libraries are available at all facilities.
Adult Learning Institute
The Institute provides comprehensive adult education and support to promote personal, career, and economic development. Activities are designed to provide adults with the skills and knowledge to obtain employment, experience advancement, and participate in post-secondary education. Initiatives include basic adult literacy, GED, and ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, as well as individual and small group tutoring and mentoring. Free on-site child care and case management services are provided to support participation.
Family Support and Social Services
Spanning all programs to provide concrete assistance, education, and recreation for families, the goal is to alleviate stress and provide support for parents. Parenting classes, advocacy education, and family activities are included. Social service staff provide classroom observation, short term intervention/counseling, social service support, and special needs support. Special needs support includes classroom modifications, staff training, and coordination of on-site therapies. Staff link families to collaborating agencies when needed, helping families make connections to community resources and services. All programs incorporate the Strengthening Families model of family support.
The Community Partners Program provides training and technical assistance to child care providers in efforts to enhance the quality of child development services in Chicago. A range of trainings offered in both English and Spanish are provided for home- and center-based providers. As an Illinois Action for Children Community Partner, the Carole Robertson Center serves targeted communities on the west and southwest sides of Chicago, as well as designated suburban communities in Cook County.
Volunteers are welcomed in all facets of program and agency operations. Volunteers range from age 8 to 85, and contribute thousands of hours of service each year. In addition to their friendship and support, volunteers fulfill essential functions in direct service to the community and provide valuable resources at little to no cost. The Foster Grandparents Initiative seeks to build community by establishing relationships among neighborhood senior citizens and young children, replacing age segregation and individual isolation with opportunities for friendship across the generations.