West Lakes Early Learning Center opens for children of essential workers

west lakes early learning center

Fla., ORLANDO, Fla., May 6, 2020 — The West Lakes Early Learning Center (ELC) is now open to provide care for children of parents who are in essential roles and working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Operated by AdventHealth for Children, the West Lakes ELC is a collaboration with Lift Orlando and Primrose Schools and made possible through a generous gift from the Bainum Family Foundation.

The official opening of the ELC was postponed as a result of the pandemic, but as a service to the community, children are now being admitted if their parents are classified as essential workers. The center is operating under strict guidelines set by AdventHealth for Children and the Department of Children and Families to maintain a safe environment for children and team members.

“This innovative center is designed to give children and families early access to whole-person health right in their community,” said Dr. Rajan Wadhawan, senior executive officer of AdventHealth for Children. “The timing of being able to open this facility, in this time of social distancing couldn’t be more important. Families of essential workers are making a sacrifice to be there for our community, so it is important that we be there for them at this unprecedented time.”

In order to keep the enrolled children and team members safe, everyone who enters the building has their temperature checked and answer screening questions. Access to the building is limited – staff meet children at the door and escort them to classrooms. Teachers enforce social distancing and no more than eight children are allowed in each class.

As part of this special community service during the pandemic, children ages 6 weeks through 5 years old are accepted. Space is limited and preference will be given to residents of the 32805 zip code.

“For me to have to go to work and for the [school] to be open during this time – it’s a very great thing for a lot of parents right now. I love it here and [my daughter] loves it too,” said Lovensheese Pierre, a private security worker whose daughter is a student at the West Lakes ELC.

Plans call for the West Lakes ELC to open for normal enrollment when social distance restrictions are lifted for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. At that time, the center will also offer comprehensive services, including social support, health-and-wellness programs and early-literacy outreach in the community

The center is part of a multipronged effort led by the nonprofit Lift Orlando — bringing together government, the private sector and nonprofits — to drive investments that strengthen the historic community around Camping World Stadium. AdventHealth was among the founders of Lift in 2012 and has been a proud supporter of its efforts ever since.

The Maryland-based Bainum Family Foundation — which invests in high-quality early learning in Washington, D.C., and other locations across the U.S. — provided funding of $12.75 million to the AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida toward the construction and the first 10 years of operations of the school. The Bainum Family Foundation also provided technical assistance for the design, operations, governance and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the early learning center.

Additional funds for the school’s ongoing operation in future years will be raised by philanthropic efforts by the AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida and by Lift Orlando.