Starchild Center open but lacking funds, kids

Joe Harrington

The Starchild Center is missing two important things: money and children.

The center is meant to be a place for children in Portage County to get educational assistance and education majors in the College of Education, Health and Human Services to gain course experience.

Although officially open, the center has yet to be able function because of funding complications.

LoveLight, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide educational assistance to individuals, including those who are disadvantaged, opened the center in January at the Faith Lutheran Church of Kent on East Main Street.

“It’s very apparent that there is a need for the program and that it can improve the community,” said Tom Moore, LoveLight’s chairman and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Both Moore and Justice credited the success of past LoveLight programs, such as the Traveling Playground and the Study Buddy programs, for the creation of the center.

“Starchild will be more than just an after-school tutoring program,” said Betsy Justice, educational psychology doctoral student and director and organizer of the center.

Even though the center is a licensed day care facility with the ability to serve children from kindergarten through seventh grade, its main goal is to provide a quality learning experience for its enrolled students.

The center will try to develop an educational profile of each student in hopes of improving their strengths as well as identifying and overcoming the underlying cause of academic underachievement, Justice said.

The activities that the children will encounter range from dramatic plays and gardening for younger children, to an activity where older students create their own small businesses.

The center will also take its students on field trips to Kent State and to the Kent Free Library for different activities.

In addition, education majors will be able to use the center for their required 20 course experience hours.

“Its a powerful experience because (educational majors) will be able actually see theory in action,” Justice said.

Financial support for the Starchild center comes from donations that are given to LoveLight, but also from subsidies through a contract with the Portage County department of Job and Family Services.

This is where the problem starts. Some families that could benefit from the Starchild Center are not eligible for these subsidies and therefore can not enroll their children into the program. Justice must now look for more financial support to get the center off the ground and running.

To raise money for the center, LoveLight has started a fundraising campaigned aimed at earning $10,000 called “Invest in Our Children.” The money received from the fundraising will provide scholarships for 10 children for the rest of the school year. Justice has also been searching for grants and sponsors from local businesses.

The Starchild Center hopes to have students participating in the program before the school year ends.

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected].