Thirty sets of brightly colored boots tromped through this year’s first snowfall to their first day of preschool at the Creative Steps Early Care and Education Center—a wonderfully renovated, state-of-the-art community facility that opened January 6, 2014 in Washington Square Village.
"The new Center helps fill one of this neighborhood's most serious needs, bringing families better access to quality early education services,” says Council Member Margaret Chin, who secured the space during the City’s ULURP negotiations with NYU in 2012.
The expansive facility’s four sunlit classrooms for 2-5 year olds, single infant/toddler room, and large central hall all capture natural light from large windows that line the building. ADA-accessible entrances and bathrooms, energy efficient lights and windows, and sustainably sourced materials make it not only a cheerful but a forward-thinking space. At the heart of the design, however, is an eye for function.
With a projected capacity for 70 children, Creative Steps “has been designed to give children enough space to explore and engage in a play-based curricular approach that follows the child’s lead and scaffolds learning by engaging the child in expanding play and language,” says Nina Piros, the director of early childhood programs at University Settlement, the organization brought in to administer the new Creative Steps program.
University Settlement is one of New York’s leading authorities on early education and they have extensive partnerships with NYU, including with NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
While "Creative Steps has been in the community for many years,” explains Piros, “in the new relationship with University Settlement, the program will not just be larger, but will represent the most rigorous, creative, and comprehensive approach to early childhood development.” Support from NYU Steinhardt and integrated services including early intervention, family child care, and mental health services will offer further programming to "strengthen the whole family."
“We are thrilled that this new facility is opening as a resource for the community, and we are grateful for the leadership of Council Member Margaret Chin and the collaboration with University Settlement,” says Alicia Hurley, NYU's Vice President for Government Relations and Community Engagement. “This has been a true community collaboration that will serve many in this neighborhood for many years to come."
Creative Steps is still taking applications for the current semester. Explore their website for more details or to register for an upcoming open house.
Explore the slideshow below to see the Creative Steps project from concept to completion. Creative Steps is still taking applications for the current semester. Explore their website for more details or to register for an upcoming open house.