At Tuesday’s grand opening of the ChildStrive new offices in Everett are, from left, Everett City Council President Judy Tuohy, ChildStrive CEO Jim Welsh, administrative operations director Leann Denini (with scissors), Rebecca Mauldin, development and communications director, and other staff and visitors. (Dan Bates/The Herald)

At Tuesday’s grand opening of the ChildStrive new offices in Everett are, from left, Everett City Council President Judy Tuohy, ChildStrive CEO Jim Welsh, administrative operations director Leann Denini (with scissors), Rebecca Mauldin, development and communications director, and other staff and visitors. (Dan Bates/The Herald)

With new digs, ChildStrive sticks to mission of helping kids

The agency that was once Little Red School House still has programs on Casino Road and in Lynnwood.

ChildStrive has new digs and a broader mission than in the past, but its goal remains the same: Give young children a great start in life.

Founded in 1963, the agency that was once Little Red School House celebrated the grand opening of its new offices Tuesday at 906 SE Everett Mall Way, Suite 200.

The new space, in the glassy building where Everest College was once located, is the administrative home of ChildStrive. It houses intake and Nurse-Family Partnership staff, early intervention teams, counselors and other workers, along with ChildStrive CEO Jim Welsh, the agency’s head since 2016.

Programs for children and families continue at ChildStrive’s sites at 14 E. Casino Road in Everett and 3210 200th Pl. SW in Lynnwood. In addition, much of the work happens through home visits.

Rebecca Mauldin, ChildStrive’s development and communications director, spoke before Tuesday’s open house about the agency’s evolution.

“It’s much broader than it used to be,” she said. “When we started, we focused on families with children with developmental disabilities and delays. The early intervention program served those families. As we grew, the needs of the community changed.”

Now, children birth through age 5 are helped through a number of programs.

“They’re experiencing hardship of some kind,” Mauldin said. That might mean being diagnosed with a disability or developmental delay.

Also helped by ChildStrive today are children born to young first-time moms, those who are homeless or affected by poverty or a parent’s substance abuse.

“It’s how best to make sure they reach all those developmental milestones,” Mauldin said.

“We’re still at Casino Road,” Welsh told staff and ChildStrive supporters Tuesday. After the ribbon-cutting, visitors toured the second-floor space that includes not only offices, but open areas with comfortable seating for informal meetings.

The workplace was designed to reflect ChildStrive’s culture, with a focus on restorative practices and equity, Welsh said.

Moving administrative offices from what’s now known as the Village on Casino Road frees up space for the needs of that neighborhood. “The families who live on Casino didn’t have a gathering space,” Mauldin said.

“We self-evicted,” said Welsh, adding that ChildStrive owns the Casino Road compound formerly known as Children’s Village. “We were not the best use.”

ChildStrive partners with Connect Casino Road, which works to strengthen families and build relationships in that south Everett area. Once the Casino Road Initiative, the group has public and private-sector partners, including ChildStrive.

From what was once ChildStrive’s administrative space, a new Connect Casino Road community hub is being created. On Casino Road, Welsh said, it was hard to find a gathering place. “It’s a wonderful community,” he added.

Several ChildStrive programs remain at the Casino Road site.

There are weekly Play & Learn groups that welcome all children, up to age 5, and their parents in English- and Spanish-speaking sessions.

Last year, ChildStrive’s Clever Sprouts ECEAP opened at Casino Road. It’s part of the state’s pre-kindergarten program serving at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds.

ChildStrive’s primary work still happens in homes, including a program called Parents as Teachers, Mauldin said. In the last fiscal year, July 2018-June 2019, ChildStrive served 4,324 children and helped support 2,013 families. ChildStrive has 117 employees, Welsh said.

“We have established a strong relationship with ChildStrive,” said Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman. His department and the agency “have a shared vision for an environment that’s safe and nurturing for all of our children,” Templeman said.

Also at Tuesday’s event was Judy Tuohy, Everett City Council president. “We’re thrilled to have ChildStrive in our community,” she said.

Whether in a family home or through one of ChildStrive’s program’s or sites, Mauldin said the organization works to build relationships.

“A healthy relationship between a parent and child is the most beneficial thing a child can have,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

Through its early intervention, Nurse-Family Partnership, Play & Learn Groups, Clever Sprouts ECEAP and other programs, ChildStrive helps young children who have delays due to disabilities or are at risk due to poverty, homelessness or other issues. Information: https://childstrive.org/

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