“We’ve known about PHLpreK from the very beginning when it was first proposed by Mayor Kenney,” said Anne Marie Collins, Executive Director at Drueding Center. “We loved the idea that all families would have access to quality early childhood learning. We’re committed to that and know how important it is. PHLpreK fills the gap for a lot of families in the city.”

This year PHLpreK has 140+ centers across the city. Drueding Center, in Kensington, is one of the city’s new PHLpreK centers.

“As soon as we heard that they were accepting new applications we applied,” said Anne Marie. “We were really excited because we have a unique structure here. Our early learning center is part of our transitional housing program, yet it serves people from the community and we really wanted to have an opportunity to serve additional families.”

“PHLpreK is giving families an opportunity for their children to be in a high-quality learning environment,” said Anne Marie. Becoming a PHLpreK provider has also allowed Drueding to hire two new staff members.

Drueding is both NAEYC accredited and a STAR 4 center. The nonprofit originated as a living facility for women and children experiencing homelessness, and expanded in 1989 to include a childcare and early learning center.

“From the very beginning we wanted our families to be doing something that would lead them to self-sufficiency so we required that they be in some type of program or working. We very quickly realized, ‘What are we going to do with the children?’ Childcare was the first additional program that we added in response to the needs of our families.”

Drueding now serves children ages six weeks through 12, in an after-school program. And Ann Marie said her favorite day of every year is the pre-K move-up day.

“That’s when we have a celebration for all of the children who will be leaving to go to kindergarten in September. It’s such a fun day particularly if the children have been with us since they were babies. We know that they’re going to kindergarten fully prepared to succeed.”

She encourages all families with children who will be 3 or 4 by September 1 to enroll today.

“Pre-K sets children on the right path. That’s the age where children’s brains are developing the fastest,” said Anne Marie. “If you have a PHLpreK program in your neighborhood you should consider enrolling your children. This is an amazing opportunity.”

Visit phlprek.org/programs to find a center near you and enroll your child today. PHLpreK is free, and has no income or work requirements.

Act fast; seats are filling up quickly! Go to phlprek.org or call 844-PHL-PREK to learn more and find a program near you!

PHLpreK, the City’s free quality pre-K program, has added over 1,000 new seats for the 2019–2020 school year at existing and new locations. Seats are almost full, but there is still time to enroll!