Update for the Community on the TalkReadPlay Center

Over the last year, Every Child Thrives agencies and community members have been planning for the future TalkReadPlay Center at the Watertown Public Library - not only the physical space, but also a network and programs that will support our goals of building strong families and ensuring all children are ready for and succeed in school. The planning process has included site visits, community listening sessions, parent surveys, a parent focus group and multi-sector planning sessions. We are now ready to share with the community a full vision for the TalkReadPlay Center.

Opening in early 2022 at the new Watertown Public Library, the TalkReadPlay Center will be a best-in-class, evidence-based early learning destination built upon multi-sector collaboration. It will nurture strong, resilient families who have the knowledge and tools to support their children's success in learning, work and life.

The TalkReadPlay Center's mission is to provide quality early learning opportunities while supporting parents and caregivers in helping their children grow and learn. In doing so, it will:

  • Inspire and support learning interactions
  • Facilitate access to resources
  • Champion caregivers as their child's first teacher
  • Work beyond its walls to build the community supports families need to thrive

A destination for families across Dodge and Jefferson counties, the Center will include the children's library and interactive spaces for play-based learning. These dynamic spaces will include a(n):

  • Infant Discovery Zone - a safe, secure place for infants and adults to explore and learn together.
  • Marketplace - a space that will periodically change between real-life places like a store, restaurant, shop, classroom, doctor's office, etc. Children will use their imagination as they build early literacy, social and emotional skills.
  • Construction Zone - a space for large motor skill development where children will practice problem solving and teamwork.
  • Creative Kids Lab - a space that will allow children to exercise design thinking and a "can-do" attitude as they create special projects.
  • STEAM Station - a space offering hands-on learning activities in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The Watertown Family Center will be relocating to the TalkReadPlay Center when it opens, and will continue to offer playgroups and educational programs for parents and caregivers. Expanding on its mission, the Family Center will also coordinate development of a Family Resource Network to be housed in the TalkReadPlay Center. Formalizing partnerships that already exist between Every Child Thrives family-serving agencies, the Network will connect families with young children to formal and informal community supports to nurture their children's development and build the protective factors families need to thrive. These protective factors include:

  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Social and emotional competence of children
  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete supports in times of need

A multi-sector community leadership team has guided the vision and development of the TalkReadPlay Center and the Family Resource Network. As a next step, this team will begin recruitment of a Family Resource Network Coordinator who will coordinate development of the Network and processes to connect families with the resources they need.

The TalkReadPlay Center is an initiative of Every Child Thrives, a collaboration of community partners in Dodge and Jefferson counties, united around the shared purpose of ensuring all children thrive in health, learning and life. Backbone support and funding will be provided by the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation, which facilitates the Every Child Thrives effort.