Ms. Kathleen Kilgore
Senior Development Officer
Dean of Students Office
775 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215 USA
v: (617) 353-4126
f: (617) 353-4225
The Boston University/Chelsea Home Learning Centers Project is the first computer-linked family childcare program in the United States. The Project had three components:
- A computer network linking 12 family childcare providers to all childcare organizations in Chelsea: 3 child care centers, Head Start, the community hospital, and the University’s School of Education — to share information and training.
- Early Childhood Education training for college credit or continuing education credit open to all childcare workers and parents in Chelsea.
- Computer training and home visits by the Project Director to the 12 family childcare providers in the Project.
Family daycare is the most popular form of childcare in the United States; four times as many children are cared for in family daycare homes than in childcare centers Yet, until recently, neither public nor the private sector tried to improve the educational component of family daycare.
In 1991, Associate Dean Dr. Carole Greenes of the Boston University School of Education and Kathleen Kilgore, a writer and former childcare administrator, started the Home Learning Centers Project (with funds and equipment from IBM) to expand the Chelsea Early Learning Program and to keep good providers working in childcare. Before the network, many family daycare providers left the profession due to isolation and lack of support. Project Director Laura DiChiappari a former Head Start teacher with a background in teaching and computers, administers the program with the help of a community board of advisors.
Experts warned that the providers would ignore the computers, but, instead, they loved them. “It’s like a new member of the family,” one provider said. The Home Learning Centers Project outgrew its first network, and moved to the Boston University branch of lnternet. Now 12 providers (caring for 2 children) and staff at the centers can “talk,” share childcare information, arrange field trips, get information from the health center and the School of Education. When not using them for the Project, the providers are free to use the computers in any way they wish. The Home Learning Project has organized field trips children’s art exhibits, park clean-ups, and other community activities. Both English and Spanish are used on the network (Chelsea has a large Latino population), and the Project has also sponsored English language classes.
The Home Learning Centers Project also ties in with the School/Home Partnership Project a project that provides parents with books and activities in English, Spanish, Khmer, and Vietnamese, and with public school kindergarten classes.
Through the Home Learning Centers Project, preschool children in Chelsea receive the same high quality early childhood education they would in a good center-based preschool program for a fraction of the cost. For less than $1,000 per year (plus equipment costs), the Project is reaching 72 children directly plus training staff from all Chelsea Childcare centers — all without building a new classroom or hiring a new teacher. We hope this project will be copied by other schools and childcare agencies. Eventually, they could create a national, even international, Early Childhood Education and Childcare network.
The Home Learning Centers project is part of the overall Boston University/Chelsea Partnership, a 10 year program under which Boston University manages the public school system of the nearby city of Chelsea – the poorest municipality in Massachusetts. The Chelsea Partnership is now in its third year.
For additional information contact:
Laura DiChiappari, Project Director
Chelsea IBM High Technology Home Learning Centers Project
100 Bellingham Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
v: (617) 889-8592