Early Connections Board of Directors announces new Executive Director

Dear Early Connections’  families, friends, and partners,

It is with great excitement the Board of Directors announces the new Executive Director of our organization, Michelle Harkins. Michelle has been fulfilling the duties of this position since the retirement of our previous Executive Director, Darlene Kovacs, but officially assumed the title as of December 11, 2020.

The Board is thrilled that Michelle has agreed to fill this position permanently. She has expressed to the Board a vision for the organization to expand both internally and throughout the community. The Board is excited to assist Michelle as she endeavors down these paths, and we are confident that under her leadership Early Connections’ mission will be wholly exemplified.

In addition to welcoming Michelle to her new role, the Board would like to formally thank our administrative staff who has made this transition seamless for our families, partners, and supporters. Their hard work and dedication to our organization, particularly during this trying time in our society, is deeply appreciated.

Please join us in congratulating Michelle, and as always, should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Board of Directors at Board@earlyconnectionserie.org.

Sincerely,

Jamie Schumacher, Board President

Santa’s Helpers

A special thank you to Santa’s Helpers this year for their handmade gifts for our little ones.  Santa’s Helpers meet each morning to design, saw, glue, sand or paint wooden toys. Erie Press Systems donates utility costs, and space on the south side of their West 12th Street facility for the workshop, which is busy with the sound of saws and sanders. They work hard all year preparing for the season of giving.  We are so lucky to be recipients of their handiwork!

Kneeling with the Santa’s Helpers: Hannah Cowan, Early Connections Finance Manager and Michelle Harkins, Early Connections Acting Executive Director.

Happy Retirement!

We would like to extend our deep gratitude to Darlene Kovacs, our Executive Director, who retired at Thanksgiving time. Unfortunately, we were not able to celebrate with a typical retirement party due to the pandemic restrictions. Admin staff and our Early Connections Board President, Jamie Schumacher, extended a big thanks to Darlene (pictured), on behalf of everyone! 

We are thankful for her years of service and dedication to Early Connections. Additional funding obtained during her time of leadership helped provide opportunities to serve more children within our community. 

Darlene, on behalf of our Early Connections’ Board, our staff, and the children and families that we serve, we wish you well as you enjoy your next chapter in life! 

Funding Assistance for Infant Toddler Care

Early Connections wants to share great news with parents of infants and toddlers! We have funded spots available in some of our centers for qualifying children under age 3, through the Infant Toddler Contracted Slots program. This provides your child with an opportunity for a high-quality child care and early education experience at no cost to you if you meet program requirements. There are several toddler spots available right now at our City Center location! 

Please call the Early Learning Resource Center at 836-5898 and ask for more information about Infant Toddler Contracted Slots, or call City Center directly at 456-4576 – act quickly because available spots will fill soon!

COVID-19 SAFETY

Early Connections takes COVID-19 and the safety of our children, families, and staff very seriously. We are following all protocols published by the CDC and Department of Human Services, and we are cleaning and disinfecting centers throughout the day.

In the event someone at your child’s center tests positive for COVID, we will notify you promptly.

Under certain specific circumstances, we are required to shut down the center for 2 days for disinfecting. If this happens, we will notify you immediately and keep you updated about reopening the center.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this difficult time.

Investing in Early Learning!

ERIEBANK presented scholarship funds to Early Connections to help more children gain access to high quality preschool education. Thank you ERIEBANK for your investment in early learning.
Pictured L to R: Darlene E. Kovacs (Executive Director, Early Connections); Katie Jones (VP/Market Manager, ERIEBANK); Kimberly Beers (VP Outreach, Early Connections); John VanTassel (Treasury Management, ERIEBANK)

Pre-K Counts Classes

Dear PreK Counts Families,

We’re sharing some information with you in case you haven’t yet decided whether or not your child will return to Early Connections for this year’s PKC program.

Yes, you can decide to have your child attend Early Connections for PKC – we have a strict protocol in place, including taking temperatures, wearing masks, frequent handwashing, and sanitizing/disinfecting classrooms and materials. We are making it as safe as we possibly can so that everyone stays healthy!

If you decide you do not want your child in a classroom yet, but you do want him/her to have the benefits of PKC, we also offer a remote option!

  1. All PKC children who are participating remotely will receive a packet every 2 weeks. You can pick this up, or request that it be mailed to you. The packet will contain 10 activities for you and your child to do together, and thanks to Hooked on Books, there will also be a book for each child to keep.
  2. In addition, if your family has internet access, there will also be information provided by your child’s teacher to link you and your child with an activity every day. You’ll have the opportunity to communicate with the teacher, and to post photos or videos of your child enjoying the activity!

If you’re not ready to decide yet, please contact Early Connections for more information to help you make the best decision for your family:

City Center, 704 State Street, 814-456-4576

North East, 50 East Division Street, North East, email mheslop@earlyconnectionserie.org

Union City, 16380 Rte 8, Union City, 814-438-7016

John E. Horan Garden Apartments, 730 Tacoma Road, 814-454-9713

Harbor Homes, 1841 East 18th Street, 814-899-3310

Thank you,

Darlene E. Kovacs

Executive Director

NEW PLAYGROUND FENCE AT CITY CENTER

Installation of City Center’s new playground fence last week was made possible through the generous support of the Erie Community Foundation. Thank you for helping us improve the safety and appearance of our playground!