Features structured program, reduced hours, and staff realignment

City staff says residents are excited about the new “Creative Minds” program debuting at the Magruder Recreation Center Tuesday.

According to new Community Services Director Jake Rollow, the program attempts to engage young children:

We will offer age appropriate arts and crafts to spur creativity, story time to build imagination, and music, leisure and fitness activities to get kids moving (indoors or outdoors). The program will also include free time with sensory toys that promote inquiry.

Each day the two-hour session will include a mix of the activities above, targeted to meet the interests and abilities of the children and their parents or caregivers. High energy activities will be followed with time to cool down.

At the August 5 meeting of the Hyattsville City Council, city administrator Tracey Nicholson discussed possible changes to the parent/child program.  Nicholson says this agenda item was only to inform the Council of their vision for the program, as well as to alert them of the cost savings from the coming changes.

The old program met during Spring and Winter sessions three days per week from 9:00am to 12:00pm.  The new “Creative Minds” program will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am to 12:00pm.  The current session runs from September 9 to November 25.

The new schedule decreases programming from those 9 hours per week to 4 hours.   Addressing City Council, Nicholson said the reduced hours had two benefits.  First, it would bring more structured programming to the program.  The old parent/child program was mostly open play.  She went on to say the new “Creative Minds” Enrichment program would bring with it interactive movement, story time, creative activities, as well as the opportunity for structured/free play.

Additionally, Nicholson said the changes would save the City approximately $13,000 per year by utilizing an existing full-time Community Services Assistant.  This eliminates the part-time contract employee who had been running the program.  When asked about the letting go of the part-time employee, the city administrator said, “This is in keeping with our responsibility to be good stewards of tax payer dollars while continuing our efforts to meet the needs of our community and provide creative programming.”

The old program was geared towards children under 5, but the flyer the City distributed at the Sunset Movie Series on September 5 described it as a “preschooler program.”  Many families with toddlers had been attending the program.  When asked about the change, Nicholson said, “We expect children between the ages of 2-5 to be our primary participants.  However, younger or slightly older children will not be turned away.”

Nicholson says she is only familiar with one family who expressed concern about the change.  Other than that, she says residents have expressed excitement and interest in the the program.

The cost of the program is $50 per child, per semester for residents, and $65 per child, per semester for non-residents.  Registration is currently open, and the first visit is free.