Non-Profit Spotlight

Every Child's Place

As the business they’ve dreamed about building together begins to take shape, Katie Jessop and Chanda Neu are learning to pace themselves, the way a long-distance runner prepares for a marathon. Fundraising (pictured left), grant writing, blueprint drawing, business planning, volunteer wrangling: these are just a few of their daily exercises that start at 5am and end, well, they don’t end. They only pause.

Katie and Chanda have spent more than 20 years combined working with children, parents, and families in the greater Spokane community. They are both raising young families and they both work full-time, Katie as a counselor specializing in attachment theory, and Chanda as a pediatric speech and language therapist. Yet the moment they begin describing the nonprofit childcare center they’re starting, Every Child’s Place, their passion and energy chases away the exhaustion of a jam-packed schedule.

The response from parents provides added motivation, says Katie. “The support and encouragement we’ve received has been amazing. We could open with 40 or so kids today just based on the phone calls I’ve received.”

Every Child’s Place opens this fall in Spokane as a childcare center for children ages four weeks to kindergarten, based on a model supported by attachment theory, inclusion, and community involvement.

Katie describes the role of attachment theory as essential. “Strong relationships support learning. When oxytocin is released, the ‘connection hormone,’ children will learn more effectively.”

Attachment theory supports the idea that children thrive in environments where they form long-term relationships with caregivers through trust, protection and support. For that reason, at Every Child’s Place, each child will stay under the care of a single caregiver for as long as possible.

The name, Every Child’s Place, carries the ideal of inclusion. Children with special needs will play and learn alongside typically developing children, which fosters acceptance, empathy and social competence for all children.

Through her professional experiences, Chanda has frequently observed the impact. “Kids and adults with special needs teach us more than we teach them. It’s very humbling. We’re teaching kids how to read each other’s cues, even non-traditional cues. That interaction rewards everybody.”

Katie says research supports the importance of these interactions, in particular during preschool. Several ongoing studies have demonstrated that preschool children with highly developed social competence achieve more positive academic success and academic skill acquisition than children who attend academically-based preschool programs.

Circle of Security, an early intervention program designed to enhance attachment security between parents and children, serves as the inspiration for Every Child’s Place. Also based out of Spokane, Circle of Security was the 2013 recipient of the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital Advocate of the Year Award for Education and its program is taught to a large international audience. The Circle of Security founders’ support of Katie and Chanda’s efforts marked a key victory in the earliest days of their vision.

“Without the encouragement of Circle of Security and without the model of inclusion, we wouldn’t have started Every Child’s Place,” says Katie.

Katie and Chanda plan to open the doors of Every Child’s Place by the fall of 2015, with a goal of expanding programming for both children and parents by 2016.