A new early education-based early childcare facility – established by one of the original founders of Tutor Time – is moving into the former Tutor Time location in East Setauket.
Children of America, a Delray Beach, Florida-based company which has more than 50 locations in 12 states, is currently enrolling new children starting at the age of six weeks.
The facility on South Jersey Ave. recently underwent renovations that cost about half a million dollars, according to Children of America CEO Thad Pryor.
"There’s no doubt in the world, educational child care centers make a difference in people’s lives," said Pryor, a founder of Tutor Time who sold that business in 1996 before launching Children of America with a different corporate structure in 1998. Pryor said the company will also open a Smithtown location later this year, along with a Port Jefferson location in 2013.
The management of Setauket's former Tutor Time location could not be reached for comment.
The company searches for locations based on median income – which is around $65,000 per year – and which has a high population of pre-school-age children within a three-square-mile radius. According to Census data, there are about 2,940 children under the age of five in and immediately around the Three Village community.
Children of America boasts a security program that parents can use to view their kids playing and learning all day by logging in with a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
The Children of America program also has an eye on fitness for children – an issue that has become front-and-center in the face of staggering childhood obesity statistics, as published by the CDC.
"We caught on to that very quickly and put a fitness plan into play. ... If they can walk and talk, we have them doing exercises developed specially for them [with] certain goals they have to meet," Pryor said.
If critics say the company's curriculum is too structured, he said "we do [have] some structure but most of our structure is done [by] learning through creativity and play."
Pryor, who said he was a world-class kickboxing competitor for many years, said his own less-than-fulfilling education was what inspired him to get into the field of early childhood care. As he recently told a convention full of Children of America professionals, he said he barely got through high school, and only survived on his talent for professional athletics.
"You talk about a child being left behind. I was that child," he said. "I said I’m going to invest in making a difference in child’s lives to make sure they’re not going to struggle like I did."
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