Who is Child First?
The mission of Child First is to develop youth and strengthen families by providing high-quality community schools, after-school and summer learning programs that promote academic achievement, social and emotional well-being, and parent leadership.
Child First was established by Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) in 1996 as a response to a city-wide listening campaign and call for safe, productive learning environments for children during out-of-school (OST) hours and in the summer. Child First is the community school non-profit partner and out-of-school-time provider at eight community schools in Baltimore city and the out-of-school-time partner at four additional schools. Altogether, approximately 1,100 students are enrolled in out-of-school-time programs and 3,400 students are supported in the eight community schools.
What Makes Us Different
A school-owned program using school-based staff.
Child First collaborates with principals, school staff, parents, and students to meet their interests and needs. Child First hires school-based staff to manage and support the program, bringing in outside professionals, such as artists and coaches, whose strengths and interests align with the school community.
Child First employs certified teachers to help coordinate between school-day instruction and after-school supports, with a part-time program coordinator, typically a certified teacher, managing the program. Child First also employs a certified teacher as a part-time academic coordinator to assess student data and coordinate instruction to better meet the needs of students.
Parents contributing skills and building leadership in community organizing.
Parents are a critical part of the Child First approach. Child First parents are asked to volunteer for at least two hours a month, and many exceed that amount, becoming involved in community organizing efforts to bring more resources and access to their children’s school. Parents and other caring adults invested nearly 15,000 hours in the 2020-21 school year.
Child First builds parent skills with regular workshops and an annual leadership retreat.
Our Community School Partnerships
Organizing school and community resources around student success
- Community school coordinators (CSC), who are are in each of our Community Schools, are strategic partners to principals in making the school the hub of a community, and a place that supports the whole family.
- A combined focus on academics, services, supports, and opportunities leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities
- Our students have consistent adult support
- Health, dental and mental health services are available and made accessible
- Child First Community School Coordinators leverage over $3.0M in financial and in-kind resources from 200+ partner organizations for their schools every year.
Our After-School Programs
Strengthening academics and the exploration of new skills and passions
- The typical program is four days per week, three hours per day.
- One hour of academic enrichment, agreed upon by principal recommendations, feedback and school expertise
- One hour of cultural enrichment, active recreation, snack, and supper daily
- Community artists teaching skills in instrumental music, drama, painting, ceramics, photography and more
- Sports and recreation including karate, yoga, flag football, basketball, tennis and track and field
- Four field trips per year
Our Summer Programs
Providing safe, academic, and cultural experiences during the summer
- The typical program operates five days a week for four weeks.
- Focus on literacy and numeracy
- Morning snack and lunch daily
- Fitness, technology, outdoor recreation, arts and crafts
- Weekly field trips