Ability Connection Colorado’s Creative Options Centers for Early Childhood Education program serves some of the most vulnerable children in Colorado. Creative Options is the Head Start/Early Head Start provider for Aurora, Colorado, and served 692 children and their families in 2017-2018 at five centers.
- 100% of the children enrolled in our programs are screened for developmental and health concerns resulting in early discovery of any delays or potential delays.
- In many cases, our services reduce the need for special education services for the children enrolled.
- Our children preparing for kindergarten demonstrate 93% proficiency in literacy, language development and developmentally appropriate social emotional behaviors.
- Over 70% of our families attend Parent Nights, participate in Parent Educational offerings and volunteer at Creative Options Centers.
Parents learn about their child’s development while developing their own life skills.
- Our parents share that they felt respected and appreciate being partners in the development of their child’s health and educational goals.
Built on this long-standing legacy, our Creative Options Centers for Early Childhood Education serve young children, age birth to 5, by providing a comprehensive program including academic, health, and social emotional supports, parent engagement mechanisms, family coaching and school readiness strategies. We serve some of the most vulnerable children in Colorado:
- Children with specific health or behavioral challenges ~15% of children enrolled in Creative Options have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or Individual Family Service Plans (IFSPs). They may have health issues, behavioral issues and/or a disability anywhere along the spectrum from mild to severe. An additional 35% of the children receive RtI (Response to Intervention) services.
- Typical children, who come from low-income households (94%) and their families participate in Head Start and Early Head Start. Approximately 70% of the pre-Kindergarten children we serve have social emotional challenges; they are usually two to three years behind their peers in social emotional and academic development, when they enroll in Creative Options.
- Current Creative Options families represent diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, and 75% are English Language learners.
Every year at four locations, infants, toddlers and preschool children and their families are provided prenatal and early care, intervention, prevention and vital support as part of an inclusive educational experience.
The full-time professional staff and support teams at each Creative Options Center include:
- Early Childhood Educators
- Special Education Consultants
- Social Emotional Coaches
- Mental Health Specialists
- Occupational Therapists
- Speech Therapists
- Family Service Staff
These specialists closely monitor and track the effectiveness of the Creative Curriculum System-a comprehensive curriculum platform that incorporates the latest research and best practices and takes into account the needs of every type of learner. Creative Options employs the Teaching Strategies GOLD, which is an evidence based assessment system tied to the curriculum that measures children’s proficiencies in all areas. Additionally, we use the Pyramid Intervention Model follows the public health model of promotion, prevention and intervention. It gives educators a toolkit of evidence-based teaching practices and interventional approaches, which promote children’s development and are effective in addressing challenging behavior.
Perhaps most important is that Creative Options understands that the success of any child is dependent on parent engagement. Parent engagement activities span all educational content areas: health, education, family and community services. We provide partnerships and developmental services to increase family support for school readiness. Creative Options also provides family coaching when families need extra support to break cycles of behavior that contribute to poverty, failure and abuse.
ACCO currently serves over 600 children and their families annually in four neighborhood Creative Options centers across the city. Since the late 1990s, ACCO has seen Creative Options’ waitlist grow to over 1 ½ times our current capacity. Creative Options’ wait list averages 650-700 every year. We are at a critical tipping point. A new physical facility is critical to serve children, whose families have already asked for our services and who are at risk simply due to the geography of their birth. We know we cannot do this alone.
ACCO’s new Creative Options Center will be located at the intersection of 13th and Peoria Street in Aurora, Colorado. This location is just within the boundary of The Children’s Corridor, a 40-square mile area straddling Denver and Aurora delineated by The Piton Foundation as among the most significant areas of need in Colorado. Of the 53,000 children who live in the Children’s Corridor, nearly 70% are in poverty or at risk. Ten new children are born every day in the corridor. Of those ten, four will not have adequate prenatal care; half won’t be reading at grade level by the 3rd grade; and only half will graduate from high school.
The new 8,935 square foot facility will allow Ability Connection Colorado to serve approximately 150 children and their families in this high-need area of Aurora. One hundred percent of children served in this facility will come from low-income backgrounds. The addition of this facility will allow ACCO to serve a total of 850 children and families, in 670 ECE slots, annually in five Creative Options centers across the Denver Metro region. Four of the five Creative Options centers will serve 100% low-income children. Specifically, the new ACCO building will include:
- Six classrooms, each with its own partitioned restroom containing two child toilets and sinks.
- Staff and program facilities including adult restrooms, administrative offices, a kitchen, laundry area, a break room with kitchenette and a conference room for staff meetings and parent/family education sessions.
- A state-of-the-art security system that includes an intercom for cross-building communication, off-hours monitoring and a secure access control system that allows staff to monitor and control people entering and leaving the building.
- A 2,940 square foot outdoor fenced play area overlooking Mt. Nebo Park. The play area has space for age-appropriate play structures, as well as outdoor storage.
- Onsite kitchen for nutritious, homemade meal preparation