Tucked back from the street in a nondescript building at 2 Central Ave., between consignment and , is a big blue playroom for kids and their caregivers. Parents Place opened only one month ago, but you wouldn’t know it from the lively crowd inside of already-loyal local families.
“We try to come every day,” said Lovey Elifritz, of White Plains, with her two children Trinity, almost 2, and Joshua, 3. “They really need this. It’s like school for them. This is like heaven. When we stay home it’s like the day goes…tick…tock…tick…tock.”
Parents Place seems to fill a void for many families with pre-school-aged kids who aren’t enrolled in pricier programs. Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, parents/caregivers and their young ones from newborn to age 5 can pay the drop-in rate of $8 per family per two-hour session or $30 for six visits.
The schedule roughly goes from free play to “circle time” to snacks and then a session for parents (one group in English, one in Spanish) to talk with professionals while the kids play some more. During circle time, the 20 kids present today (not including some babies sleeping in their car seats off to the side) dance, sing and shake rattles with the adults. Director Eve Woodfin holds a sleeping baby throughout so the baby’s mother can play with her older child.
There’s ample staff on hand – including social workers and special education teachers – and not only do they come in handy to lead songs and make sure the sand in the table sandbox doesn't fly, but to address parenting issues that surface at the table discussions. Today parents are talking about sleep patterns and siblings sharing rooms.
Parents Place, of parent organization Guidance Center, moved here from White Plains. The Guidance Center, of New Rochelle, is a non-profit invested in, according to its website, “Supporting Individuals; Transforming Communities.” But it could in turn use some support.
“We need funding,” said Woodfin. “Eight dollars does not cover the amount we need to run a program like this.” She estimates annual costs at Parents Place of $135,000. With enough funding, she plans to turn a bare corner into a kitchen, add afternoon programming, and create scholarship support for low income families.
“The Guidance Center does wonderful things, but they can’t do wonderful things without the funding,” Woodfin said.
For now the crowd seems to be mostly Latin, but Woodfin hopes the space can attract everyone. “My vision is to bring everybody together, all different kids, all different backgrounds, learning social skills they’ll bring with them into adulthood. The goal is to get them ready for school, and beyond.”
For more information, contact Parents Place at (914) 631-2513 or Director Eve Woodfin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.