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A new preschool opens in Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

A new preschool opens in downtown Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood.

The Stubbs Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) is a partnership between the Christina School District and the Neighborhood House that aims to provide a safe, healthy learning environment for children in Southbridge.

Neighborhood House Executive Director Alison Windle calls the new full-day preschool program:

“A long time coming labor of love and a dream for us to complete a service gap that we had for 3 and 4 year olds. Our current programs begin at 6 weeks, end at 3 ¾ and then begin again at 6 years old. So this was completing and bridging the gap that we had.”

The new ECAP program now allows their programming to reach children of every age. Their Early Learning Center provides child care for infants 6-months to 3-years old, and their Before and After Care program is for children ages 5 to 18.

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

The Stubbs Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) at the Neighborhood House is a pilot for neighborhood schooling in partnership with a public school, and this particular partnership is in part thanks to the Wilmington Learning Collaborative’s efforts to connect education facilities across the city.

Gov. John Carney says this school opening represents an important part of the efforts in the City of Wilmington to improve education- specifically helping young children get an early start.

“The ECAP program is a really strong one, so we’re really excited about this as part of the Wilmington Learning Collaborative,” he explained. “And the idea of making these opportunities available across the city is really important in my view.”

Windle says the community is excited to see these services come to the neighborhood, especially after the closing of Elbert-Palmer Elementary School in 2019 left the area without a pre-school.

State Senator Darius Brown says it will help working and multi-generational families.

“For many of the men and women that work at the Port of Wilmington that have children, this is now an alternative for them, for early childhood education, in the immediate vicinity of their employment,” said Brown. “And also for the residents of the Southbridge neighborhood who may have their children or grandchildren home with them, or with their grandmother, or auntie, or big momma, they now can come to the Early Childhood Education Center.”

The early learning program will be free for eligible children, but the small-sized classrooms means space is limited. Early enrollment is encouraged.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and a graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021