The JCC of Greater Baltimore and Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s E.B. Hirsh Early Childhood Center are entering into a two-year collaboration. Expected to begin July 1, the agreement will see the JCC supporting the childhood center in its mission.
“We are confident that the combined talents of the JCC’s and BHC’s professional staff and our proven track record in delivering Jewish early childhood education will enable us to enrich an already strong preschool environment at the E.B. Hirsh Early Childhood Center at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation,” said Barak Hermann, CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, via a press release.
Discussions began in the summer of 2019, said BHC’s Rabbi Andrew Busch. They were put on hold following the start of the pandemic, but resumed in the fall of 2020.
“Rabbi [Busch] and I have known each other a long time,” said Hermann. “And we talk about lots of ways of how to engage young Jewish families together.”
“On one of our many walks and talks, we just talked about early childhood, and talked about ways that we might think about collaborating to advance the E.B. Hirsh Early Childhood Center of Baltimore Hebrew [Congregation],” Hermann continued, “and advance the JCC’s desire to engage more young Jewish families.”
Under the agreement, the JCC will be providing the childhood center with support in a number of areas, including with operations, marketing, facilities, human resources, finance support and professional development, said Hermann. Regarding professional development, some of the new training staff at the childhood center may receive could include security and emergency procedures training, training on new COVID-19 protocols or pedagogical training. Additionally, the childhood center will also be able to leverage the resources of JCC Association, including the JCCA’s Sheva Center, which focuses on early childhood education.
“If we all do this right, parents and children aren’t actually going to notice anything,” said Busch. “They’re going to go into a warm and wonderful school, and much of what we’re talking about is back end.”
The JCC and BHC plan to evaluate how well the collaboration functions before making a decision on whether to renew the agreement before the end of its time frame, Hermann said. While the JCC is not planning on entering into any similar agreements with any other area schools, Hermann said that “we’ll see where we are in a couple of years.”
Established in 1988, the E.B. Hirsh Early Childhood Center offers care for infants as young as 10 weeks, a toddler program for children 18 to 24 months and a preschool program for children between 2 and 4 years old, according to a press release.
“We are excited about our two institutions coming together, our teams working together, and frankly in the couple of weeks since we announced this … we’ve already had several kids sign up who came to us via this direction,” said Busch.