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Hudson Guild Provides Affordable Alternative for Pre-K

By Mathew Katz | March 6, 2013 7:33am

CHELSEA — On Tuesday, Jenna Delia's class of 3- and 4-year-olds were learning to keep a beat with drumsticks, with each student taking turns to lead the class in a different rhythm as they pounded on the ground.

The class, one of 10 offered by the Hudson Guild, provides 10 hours a day, five days a week of pre-K to students of working parents on limited incomes. 

With competition high to get into pre-K programs at many public schools, the Hudson Guild's Early Childhood Education Program allows families who live or work in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen to get an early start without the stress of pre-K admissions.

"This is a highly rated, high-quality, privately run day care for children of working families," said Ken Jockers, Hudson Guild's executive director.

Parents who meet city-mandated qualifications can enroll their kids at any time, and parents have flexibility throughout the day to pick up and drop off children as their schedule allows.

"We're all about what the community needs," said LeeAnn Scaduto, Hudson Guild's director of Children and Youth Services.

"It's about where that family is at — the goal is so our kids will be prepared to be successful in kindergarten."

The program, which is licensed to the city, has locations on West 26th Street in Chelsea and West 40th Street in Hell's Kitchen. Teachers are trained by the Department of Education, and help kids learn basic skills, including writing, working with computers and art. 

Running from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., the day is longer than most pre-K programs and teachers fill it with myriad activities, such as yoga or visiting the Hudson Guild's art galleries. The program runs year-round, even during the summer.

"A lot of our parents work long hours, so they really use that whole day," Scaduto said.

"Since they're here for 10 hours, we have to be able to support them in a number of ways."

The cost of the program ranges based on income and family size, but can be as low as $3 a week, though most families pay $20 to $50 a week per child, Scaduto said. The price includes a nutrition program that provides students with breakfast, lunch and a snack every day. Many students enrolled in the program come from the nearby Chelsea-Elliott and Robert Fulton Houses. 

Kids enrolled in the program can take advantage of the many offerings of the Hudson Guild, including an art gallery, a theater and the facility's gym. 

The program can hold about 180 students, with an average of 15 to 20 kids per class. Qualifying parents can enroll their children at any time, and likely won't have to worry about being denied entry or being put on a long waitlist.

"We're built around flexibility, so we can get your child in there," Scaduto said.

"We're here to serve the community that needs it."