Mission: Oberlin Early Childhood Center nutures the healthy growth of young children .
The OECC was founded in 1968 as an experimental summer program for low-income families of preschoolers. Originally located in the basement of Christ Episcopal Church, the program moved within months to larger quarters in the basement of First Church. This low-cost program quickly became popular with families of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Before incorporation, the Center’s fiscal agent was the Oberlin Consumers Co-op whose manager was James “Bill” Long. The Co-op also provided support for the Center through its “Causes Fund” now called the Bill Long Foundation. In 1973 the Center gained status as a nonprofit corporation and received its first United Way grant.
In 1973 it was clear that the growing program needed its own space. With the influence of Evan Nord of the Nordson Corporation, the Nordson Corporation Family Foundation agreed to build a facility on land located on East College Street. Ground was broken in 1975, and in April of 1976 the building was completed and the program moved to 317 East College Street. The Nord family’s support continued through establishment of the Oberlin Early Childhood Center Fund and the Oberlin Early Childhood Center Building Fund through the Community Foundation of Lorain County, to offset the cost of building maintenance and utilities.
1987 brought questions regarding the direction of curriculum, professional development, and program oversight. The Nordson Corporation Foundation contracted with the High/Scope Foundation of Ypsilanti, Michigan to conduct a comprehensive critique of the facility and programming. The result was the implementation of a full time Program Director to work in conjunction with staff to enhance the curriculum and center related activities.
OECC has seen many changes in the needs of its children and families, as well as funding streams. Federal funding cuts have made an impact on the program. The support of funds received from the City of Oberlin and Oberlin College as well as foundation grants from the Nord Foundation, Nordson Foundation, Stocker Foundation, Bill Long Foundation, Green Edge Fund, all help to sustain the program.
Contracts are in place with the Department of Jobs & Family Services of Lorain to provide tuition reimbursement for low-income families.
Through the years, OECC has remained an early childhood program that has focused on comprehensive quality services for families of all income levels. In January of 1998 the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, a division of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited OECC, giving it the hallmark of an exemplary program. OECC continued to maintain it’s accreditation status with NAEYC through the end of May 2012. OECC is currently accredited through the Association for Early Learning Leaders’ National Accreditation Commission. In addition OECC has maintained a Step Up to Quality Program rating, a rating system for child care centers implemented by the State of Ohio Job and Family Services.