Hudson Guild Has Smart Addition to Early Childhood Education Program

Earlier this month, the Polly Dodge Center became Hudson Guild’s fifth early childhood education center. | Photo by Caleb Caldwell

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | There is a new member of the Hudson Guild family.

On Mon., July 2, Hudson Guild took over the operation of the Polly Dodge Center at 538 W. 55th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) from the YWCA.

“Recently, the YWCA decided to no longer operate the Polly Dodge Center and Hudson Guild was offered the opportunity to come in and take over the operation of the center,” Ken Jockers, the organization’s executive director, explained in a phone interview.

For roughly six years, Hudson Guild’s board has had its eye on expansion, he noted.

“Our board decided in order to strengthen our services, we would expand in our already existing program areas when opportunities presented themselves,” Jockers said.

Hudson Guild, a “multi-service community agency” that serves Chelsea “with a focus on those in need,” according to its website, has an early childhood education program. The Polly Dodge Center expands that program, which currently serves children from the ages of two to four and provides “safe, high-quality, free and low-cost child care for low- and moderate-income families in the surrounding community,” according to the July 3 press release announcing the addition of the center.

Families in Hudson Guild’s Early Childhood Education Program qualify for free or low-cost care based on their household income, Jockers explained.

“In 2012, we had the opportunity to take over a child care center on 40th Street and to then to open a new Head Start center [at] the Amsterdam Houses on 64th Street,” Jockers explained. “Now the addition of Polly Dodge on 55th Street enables us to serve families up and down the West Side in addition to our facilities in Chelsea. We consider this a welcome addition to our core programming.”

Polly Dodge serves children from the ages of two to four. | Photo by Caleb Caldwell

The organization also operates a center within the Elliott-Chelsea Houses.

“It ensures that families on the West Side continue to have access to care,” he said. “It allows Hudson Guild to expand the level of services.”

The programming at the early childhood centers is aligned with New York state pre-kindergarten (pre-K) learning standards and the Common Core curriculum. Certified teachers teach classes, which include art, music, dance and yoga activities, and “a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snack are available for all participating children,” according to the release.

“Every child has access to the same exact level of service,” Jockers said. “So each child starts kindergarten ready to learn.”

It also has an extended day until 6 p.m., according to Hudson Guild’s website.

Ken Jockers, Hudson Guild’s executive director (seen here), said the goal of the centers is that “each child starts kindergarten ready to learn.” | Photo by Caleb Caldwell

“Low cost, high-quality childcare is essential for all working parents,” City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal said in the press release. “Expanding access to early childhood education is not only a boon to parents, but also to the children who will enter kindergarten with strong literacy and language, motor development, and social and emotional skills.”

Jockers explained there are four different pieces to the funding: the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, Head Start (which is a federal program), city funding for universal pre-K, and private funding.

“We’re super excited to have Polly Dodge families and Polly Dodge employees join as part of Hudson Guild,” he said. “We’re thrilled at the chance to work together.”

He added, “We are happily recruiting for the next school year.”

For more information, visit

Activities for children at Hudson Guild facilities include art, music, dance, yoga, and, of course, unstructured play. | Photo by Caleb Caldwell

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