The Jacksonville Children's Commission (JCC) today announced that due to budget constraints, the childcare functions of the Don Brewer Early Learning, Research and Development Center will cease at the end of this school year. Future use of the facility has yet to be determined.
The last day for students will be Friday, June 27, and Thursday, July 3 will be the last day for teachers and staff. Brewer Center staff will work closely with families to find another childcare facility that meets their needs and facilitates a smooth transition for the children.
'The Brewer Early Learning Center has been an integral part of the mayor's literacy initiative, and changes have been continually made to that initiative over the past years to help achieve the desired results and meet budgetary constraints,' said Howard Korman, chairman of the Jacksonville Early Literacy Partnership. 'Unfortunately, the operation of a separate city-owned early learning facility to test ‘best practices' is no longer feasible under today's budget constraints.'
Since 2005, the Don Brewer Early Learning, Research and Development Center has served children ages 0-5 with a special emphasis on literacy through collaborative partnerships among private, public and governmental agencies. The center has also placed a focus on bringing researchers and practitioners together to create a community-based demonstration center by developing and implementing research and evidence-based strategies targeting urban-neighborhood children who are at risk of entering school under-prepared.
The center is an autonomous arm of the Jacksonville Children's Commission and is governed by a board of five members; three selected from the Jacksonville Children's Commission's Board and two selected by the Don Brewer Foundation Governing Board.
Toni and Andy Crawford, close friends of the late Don Brewer, presented an endowment of $1 million through the Don Brewer Foundation Center to help defray the operational costs of the agency. After the closing of the Brewer Center, this endowment by the Crawford's will continue to support other early learning initiatives in Jacksonville.
Brewer, a former Jacksonville City Councilmember, former president of the Northeast Florida Easter Seal Society, former president of the Association for Hearing Handicapped Children, and recipient of the FACE Outstanding Community Leader Award, was a staunch believer in -- and product of -- the Duval County Public Schools.
Brewer's civic involvement began when his son was born hearing-impaired. He saw a need for early education for special needs children and worked with the Duval County Schools' Exceptional Student Education Department to implement a public school program for 3-year-old hearing-impaired children. The program became a model for the state and was one of the first programs dedicated to early education for Duval County special needs children.