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Movie theater-turned-child care center set to open additional space in fall

Aundrea Blake (center), the emotional wellbeing coordinator at Friends Center for Children, gives a tour during a groundbreaking ceremony on May 14, 2024, for the nonprofit’s Flint Street Campus child care center, which is being built inside the former Cine 4 movie theater in New Haven.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Aundrea Blake (center), the emotional wellbeing coordinator at Friends Center for Children, gives a tour during a groundbreaking ceremony on May 14, 2024, for the nonprofit’s Flint Street Campus child care center, which is being built inside the former Cine 4 movie theater in New Haven.

Allyx Schiavone, the executive director of Friends Center for Children, a New Haven based child care provider, wears many hats in her role, from leading a nationally-recognized effort at providing living space for day care teachers, to showing off her soon to be office space to U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.

“This is the first time we'll be in contiguous space ... we've been operating in separate spaces,” Schiavone said. 

“Oh my God,” DeLauro said.

“My office was a closet for a while,” Schiavone said.

Schiavone’s future office will occupy what used to be a neighborhood movie theater. But it's also going to be the future home for additional classroom space, amenities such as a children’s library and other resources as the center expands to meet demand for its services, one of the few affordable options in the area.

The project’s first phase, set to be completed in the fall, is part of what she calls a family campus offering community resources to parents and kids. One of the family activities the center hopes to offer is a nod to the history of the Cine4 Movie Theater space — the center plans to preserve one of the screening rooms for the community’s use.

The space can accommodate 80 children and their families, Schiavone said.

DeLauro stopped by to visit and to congratulate the center with a federal grant to fund the second phase of the project for $1.1 million That phase will add six infant toddler classes, a training space for teachers, and a children’s library.

“We are in lockstep on the critical role that the federal government should be playing in child care,” DeLauro said. "That is essential.”

So far, the center is still taking applications from parents looking for child care.

Seats of the former Cine 4 movie theater that will be preserved as part of the new Friends Center for Children Flint St. Campus child care center in New Haven.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Seats of the former Cine 4 movie theater that will be preserved as part of the new Friends Center for Children Flint St. Campus child care center in New Haven.

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