All About Us

Center History

The concept of Child Care Centers located in the State office buildings in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati was the original idea of then Governor Richard Celeste. Children First of Columbus is located at 77 South High Street in Columbus Ohio and Children First of Cleveland is located at 615 West Superior Avenue in Cleveland Ohio. Our building is known as the Frank J. Lausche State Office Building. Children First of Cleveland was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and opened its doors in 1990 to provide early childhood education and care services.

Our organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who determines directions and policies for the organization. The Executive Director is responsible for daily operations of the Center. The following is a list of Executive Directors:

Brenda Arthurs                                                     1990 – 1996

Tonya Beal                                                            1996 – 2003

Joan Hamm                                                           2003 – 2008

Jean Smith                                                            2008 – 2012

Jill Psota                                                                2013 – 2014

Joan Hamm                                                           2014 – Present

Children First of Cleveland participates in the Step-Up to Quality programs offered through the State of Ohio and seeks to enhance the quality of early childhood education. In August of 2013, the Center was awarded a One-Star Rating. In March of 2015, the Center was awarded its second star.

Children First of Cleveland is a nonprofit organization with a 501 (c) 3 Internal Revenue Service status.

Mission Statement

Children First of Cleveland’s mission is to provide a quality learning experience for children age 6 weeks and over. We believe that young children develop to their fullest potential in a learning environment that is healthy, creative, constructive, productive and fun. We further believe families with young children should have equal access to suitable childcare arrangements.

Philosophy Statement

At Children First of Cleveland, we believe that all children are competent learners and the best method to teach young children is through play. We believe that children should have the opportunity to understand language, pretend, read, explore science/nature, discover art, experience the world around them and express themselves. Early identification of learning challenges is important to us as well as accessing community services to benefit the child, family, teacher and classroom.


We view the relationship between a Teacher and child as special, distinctive and individual. This relationship is unique and does not serve as a substitute for the other significant relationships in the child’s life. We recognize that each child is a member of a distinctive family and every family member’s involvement in the young child’s life is crucial to his or her success. Our Center understands that all families are busy and stressed and we seek to maximize family participation opportunities. We further believe that children have the responsibility to learn and demonstrate practical social interaction skills.

Nurturing Attitude:

We believe that a nurturing attitude creates a learning setting that is sensitive to the social/emotional realm of human interaction. Children First of Cleveland seeks to create an atmosphere where children are given the opportunity to develop a healthy self-image and solid self-esteem in the context of respecting others around them. We also seek to empower Teachers and Staff to grow into competent and thriving early childhood professionals.

Curriculum Statement

In consideration of the mission, philosophy and vision for Children First of Cleveland, we have adopted and implement The Creative Curriculum developed by Teaching Strategies as our curriculum of choice. This curriculum is based on solid research and is found to be valid and reliable. A 2013 study by independent researchers report “results imply that the curriculum and assessments measure work in concert with one another to support the development and learning of children from diverse backgrounds”.1 The Creative Curriculum “materials detail how to (a) create learning environments, (b) individualize for diverse learners, (c) teach content area, and (d) integrate in-depth investigations of topics of interest to the children.”2 The content and focus of The Creative Curriculum by Teaching Strategies is an ideal complement for Children First of Cleveland’s vision of care and education for young children.


Heroman, C., Burts, D.C., Berke, K. & Bickart, T.S. (2010) Teaching Strategies GOLD® objectives for development and learning. Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies, LLC.

Hyson, M. (2008) Enthusiastic and engaged learners: Approaches to learning in the early childhood classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.