End of an Era: After 45 Years in Charlestown, Tiny Tots Program Closes Doors

June 29, 2012
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After 45 years of being a staple in the Charlestown community, the appreciated Tiny Tots Program at the Harvard Kent Elementary School silently shut its doors, leaving many Charlestown parents with no other options.

For months, a petition circulated throughout the community with the hopes that enough money could be raised to continue the affordable program. Officials of the Tiny Tots Program were barraged with phone calls and emails. Mayor Thomas M. Menino was sought to join the efforts. But even the most dedicated contributors to the cause knew the worst was coming. Come September, they would have nowhere to send their children.

Tiny Tots cost $275 a month per child for a five-day per week program. Local daycares in Charlestown and surrounding areas on average cost $300 a week. That’s a large spike not everyone can afford. Parents like Melissa Doherty, who was a main supporter of the Tiny Tots Program, is now scrambling to find options for her daughter.

“She was supposed to start Tiny Tots this fall.  I have no idea where I am going to send her as a lot of the schools are currently full or out of my price range. The closing of Tiny Tots leaves my husband and I with no options for a local nursery school for our child as Tiny Tots is the only affordable program in Charlestown for families not eligible for low-income subsidies,” Doherty, who is a Tiny Tots graduate herself, said.

In an effort to offset the amount of children left with no program to attend, the Kennedy Center developed a preschool program which would serve as an affordable, private pay option, with choices of a two, three, or five-day program. Last week, the Kennedy Center’s Board of Directors announced that the Kennedy Center has secured a license to manage the Child Focus Center’s preschool and toddler childcare programs at Bunker Hill Community College’s Charlestown and Chelsea campuses.

The preschool will be modeled on a Creative Curriculum, which will have developmentally appropriate activities for children based in science, reading, math, art and music.

The Tiny Tots Program offered a similar curriculum, making it clear that the Kennedy Center is trying to emulate the favored program in hopes of trying not to upset parents too much with vastly different activities for their children. The program will run from September through June, and is expected to fill up with eager three to five-year olds ready to start their educations.

“Tiny tots closing is not only disappointing to the parents of the town but also to me,” said longtime educator Andrea Hingston. “The last few weeks have been very emotional to me seeing I spent most of my life being involved with Charlestown Community centers.”

Despite Charlestown’s best efforts to provide an alternative option, parents and teachers alike are mourning the loss of the established Tiny Tots Program, and if there is ever a chance to bring it back, you can expect to see the hundreds of disappointed parents rallying for its revival.