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November 18, 2009 > Inspiring minds, influencing the future

Inspiring minds, influencing the future

Kidango celebrates 30 years of serving children

By Alyson Whitaker

Any parent knows that raising a child is no easy task. There are no definitive handbooks or instructions for navigating through the trials and joys of parenthood. Finding a trusted daycare or preschool provider can prove to be a daunting task, yet an important one, to ensure that children are well cared for and prepared for the future.

The mission of Kidango is simple - the children of today are the future of tomorrow. More than just childcare, Kidango is firmly committed to the success of each child in its care. To support Kidango's core child development services, early intervention is provided to children with special needs. Mental health services are available to children and families. Teen parents can complete their education, with childcare assistance for their babies. A nutrition program educates children about healthy food choices. They provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks to each child on a daily basis, often providing the main source of nutrition.

Kidango, Inc. began as Tri-Cities Children's Centers, Inc. in 1979. Serving just 90 low-income children in its first year, Kidango now serves over 2,500 children, ages 0-12, at 38 centers in nine cities throughout the Bay Area. The first and largest location is in Fremont at Rix Elementary School. The operating budget for the first year was just under $250,000. Now, the annual budget is over $29 million.

Numerous studies have shown that preschool is one of the most beneficial investments that parents can make. Brain development largely occurs in the first six years of life. Learning to love learning, acting appropriately with adults and children, developing problem solving skills and impulse control are all essential skills for long term success in life.

Where there are services that children need, Kidango tries to identify them, and then partners with an organization to meet those needs. While unable to provide homeless children with a place to live, there is a center in a homeless shelter in Fremont.

There are four centers in high schools for teen parents. The dropout rate for teen parents nationwide is about 60 percent. The graduation success rate for those within Kidango's centers is between 80-90 percent. Many students within the program have completed college and are economically self-sufficient, raising their own children.

Kidango is classified as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit agency. Receiving the bulk of funding from government entities, an income-based fee schedule is utilized to determine the cost for children in various programs. While serving predominantly low-income families, Kidango includes children from middle and upper income levels as well.

Running a successful childcare and preschool is no easy task. Through the support and influence of government agencies, local legislators, and experts in the field of early childhood education, Kidango continually broadens the spectrum of services they are able to offer.

On Saturday, December 5, Kidango will celebrate its 30th anniversary by hosting a community celebration, 'A Wishful Winter's Night.' The gala will honor 30 influential leaders whose efforts have made a difference in the fields of early childhood education and child development. Honorees represent a diverse group of individuals who have dedicated their lives to education from pre-kindergarten through college, as well as mental health, early intervention, and public service.

Executive Director Paul Miller has been with Kidango since the beginning. "As Kidango celebrates its 30 years and reflects on the countless lives that we have touched, we recognize that it truly does 'take a village' and we are honored to have relationships with so many influential leaders and their agencies. Our communities are stronger because of our collaborative efforts; thus in celebrating the success of Kidango, it is important to celebrate us all."

The anniversary event at the Hilton Newark will include appetizers, dinner and an inspirational address by Delaine Eastin, former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Entertainment and recognition of honorees will follow the keynote address.

Individual tickets are $75 each or $600 for a table of ten. All proceeds from the event will benefit Kidango's holiday program, 'Gifts from the Heart.' This annual holiday program provides disadvantaged children within Kidango's programs with necessities and holiday gifts as well as additional classroom resources.

To purchase tickets, contact Camille Llanes-Fontanilla at (510) 897-6912 or

A Wishful Winter's Night
Saturday, December 5
6 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Hilton Newark
39900 Balentine Dr., Newark
$75/person or $600/table of 10
(510) 897-6912

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