Central P.A.R.K. is a unique program designed to meet the social, physical, emotional, and developmental needs of children, ages five and under, in a safe, indoor-playground setting that is supportive of the wellbeing of the children, their families and the community at large. All programs offered at the Greater Waterbury Corps are designed to meet clients’ immediate needs, while also providing additional information and referrals that could lead to self-sufficiency.
Central P.A.R.K. nurtures and encourages increased self-esteem, parenting competency, family stability, and social supports, while also providing opportunities for caregivers to develop problem-solving strategies. The program helps to prevent destructive attitudes, harmful behaviors, social isolation, and ineffective coping strategies that can negatively affect children’s development. It also serves as a host site for supervised visitation for the Department of Children and Families, and a meeting place for the Connecticut Family Support Network, a network of families whose children have disabilities and are interested in helping other parents to find the support they need.
Central P.A.R.K. is housed in the Greater Waterbury Corps’ gymnasium. It is equipped with age-appropriate recreational and educational equipment, including a playscape, sandbox, gymnastic mats, riding toys and more. The room also includes a reading/quiet corner, nursery area, dress-up costume chest, arts and crafts area with creative and educational supplies, computer learning center connected to the internet, and a lunch/snack area. The program is open Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In 2013, Central P.A.R.K. had 2,654 visitors and was open for 204 days. This is an increase over the number of visitors during 2012. During the year the program enjoyed 239 first time visitors.
In addition to holding drop-in hours each week at the facility, Central P.A.R.K. partners with the organization CT Birth-to-Three System to provide a weekly Birth-to-Three program for parents and their children, ages three and under, at the Corps’ facility. This three-hour program provides circle time for the parents and children, developmental activities for the children, and parenting workshops. Central P.A.R.K. also holds monthly educational workshops for parents of children of all ages, covering topics such as life skills, nutrition, and academic issues. Parents who have benefited or are presently benefitting from programs offered by The Salvation Army’s Family Shelter receive a personalized invitation to attend these workshops.