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Child Care of Southwest Florida
SEN. LIZBETH BENACQUISTO VISITS
P.A. GERACI CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
FORT MYERS, FLA., June 11, 2012 – Florida Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto learned more about issues facing child care centers during a visit to the P.A. Geraci Child Development Center in Fort Myers June 6.
Benaquisto spoke with Child Care of Southwest Florida Executive Director Beth Lobdell, Operations Director Nancy Coker, and Education Specialist Deb McCarthy. The P.A. Geraci Child Development Center at 3713 Canal St. is one of six child care centers operated by Child Care of Southwest Florida.
“We were very happy that Sen. Benacquisto accepted our invitation to come to the center and hear our opinions about policies and legislation affecting early childhood education,” Lobdell said. Among the topics they discussed was the low state reimbursement rate for centers that have earned Gold Seal status for exemplary programs. All of Child Care of Southwest Florida centers have earned Gold Seal status.
“Gold Seal status comes at a high cost to centers like ours. For example, the ratios of children to staff are quite a bit lower than licensing standards. This is a very expensive choice for us, but one that research shows is a definite quality indicator,” Lobdell said.
During her visit, Benacquisto also spent more than an hour interacting with the children. In the Preschool 4 and 5 year old room, she planted watermelon seeds in cups and asked the children to let her know how her watermelon grows. She also read to children in the Toddler Room.
“Oh, I could do this all day,” she said several times.
Benacquisto was first elected to the Florida Legislature in 2010 representing the 27th district. This summer, she was named deputy majority leader of the Florida Senate, a notable leadership position for a freshman legislator. She sits on several significant committees, including Pre K-12 Education. She was recently named Children’s Advocate of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of Lee County and PACE Center For Girls Senator of the Year.
The P. A. Geraci Child Development Center is licensed to care for 116 children from infancy to age 8. Enrollment is now open for the Voluntary Pre-K program, which begins this fall. The child care center is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For more information about P.A. Geraci Child Development Center, call 239-337-4995 or visit www.ccswfl.org
About Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc.
P.A. Geraci Child Development Center is among six child care centers operated by Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc. The private non-profit organization provides high quality child care services throughout Southwest Florida from infancy through age 8. In addition to providing child care, Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc., conducts and coordinates training for child care workers, and administers the federal Child Care Food Program for child care centers and family child care homes.