/ Modified may 31, 2019 2:48 p.m.

Inside Casa de los Niños's new early education center

How the center creates learning opportunities for 3 and 4 year olds.

Arizona 360 got a firsthand look at early childhood education and how it has evolved over the years with a visit to Casa de los Niños's newly opened Kelly Early Education Center. Currently, a hundred children are enrolled and there's room to grow. Lorraine Rivera spoke to two instructors at the facility about their approach to educating young minds.

"Before it was just entertaining them and keeping them busy. Now it's actually teaching them emotional, cognitive manners," Phyllis Zapor said. She and her colleague, Andrea Padilla, have 44 years of experience combined.

"Children can always learn through play. And that's how we set up a lot of our centers. They think they're playing, they're having a good time, but there's a purpose behind the activity. Whether it's language skills or problem solving, they're actually working," Padilla said.

Casa de los Niños early education director Mica LaBellarte joined Rivera in studio to discuss how the nonprofit has expanded its services to continue meeting the needs of the community.

"A lot of the programs now are providing in-home support and there's less need for children to be in a group home situation. By launching the early education center, we're not only serving the children in that center, we're serving the whole family," LaBellarte said.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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