Play Connects: Educating Through Play at Florence Fuller Child Development Centers

May 17, 2013 | The Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) Play Connects program invites Toy Industry Association (TIA) member companies to nominate charities in their own communities to receive TIF grant funding. In 2012, four nominated charities were selected to receive up to $10,000 each to help low income, disabled and at-risk children across the country. Over the course of the summer, Toy News Tuesday will be profiling the charities that received grants to showcase how the funds are making an important difference in children’s lives.

Nominated by TIA member The Bridge Direct, Florence Fuller Child Development Centers (FFCDC) was among four charities chosen to receive a 2012 Play Connects grant of $10,000. FFCDC annually serves 625 children of economically challenged families in the Boca Raton, Florida area through quality childcare, early education, family support programs, and more.

The Play Connects grant is currently being used by FFCDC to support its Infant and Toddler program, which helps children between the ages of 6 and 36 months to develop fine and gross motor skills using toys; develop early literacy and a love of books; expand emergent verbal skills using puppets and dolls; enhance social development with dramatic play toys; and express themselves creatively with craft supplies.

“Play experiences in classrooms at FFCDC bring children joy and a creative opportunity to express new concepts in a safe place,” explained Ellyn Okrent, CEO of Florence Fuller Child Development Centers. “Learning and feedback from these experiences are constant when a child plays solo or enjoys playing with classmates. With creative play, children blossom and flourish – without it, they suffer a serious decline. Toys are the tools and play is the positive, healthy result that Florence Fuller Child Development Center needs to accomplish their goals.”

TIF’s financial support helped purchase specialized classroom supplies and play equipment for FFCDC’s Infant and Toddler program. After 6 months of applying the grant funding to this program, 99% of children improved in at least two areas of development. Progress was measured using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) – which measures strengths and trouble spots, educates parents about developmental milestones, and incorporates a parent’s expert knowledge about their child in the evaluation process.

The 2013 Play Connects grant cycle is now open through June 14, 2013. TIA member companies may download the simple form to nominate a local charity to apply for up to $10,000 in grant funding. More information can be found on the Play Connects webpage.