With years of experience under her belt, center tours are a breeze for Kim Palumbo. But a recent tour threw her and her team for a loop. Generally the people requesting tours are parents, but every now and again a different sort of visitor drops by.
Center Director Kim and her staff at CCLC 90 Park in New York City had the opportunity to host some unique guests this summer: a group of employer-sponsored childcare workers and administrators from South Korea.
The organization, the Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL), is part of the Ministry of Employment and Labor. As part of their work, they provide subsidies to employers to build and operate childcare centers for their employees in South Korea – 750 and counting. They also conduct research to promote employer-sponsored childcare and operate 24 public centers.
The KCOMWEL team – which included three center directors, three teachers, and several administrators – came to Washington, D.C. in July to attend a conference and extended their visit to see firsthand what a high-quality childcare center looks like in the United States. Their trip to New York included stops at two Bright Horizons centers as well as 90 Park.
Although initially puzzled by their request – it’s not every day that a foreign government agency asks for a center tour – the 90 Park staff and CCLC Business Development team planned a nearly two hour visit for their guests, including a pre-tour meeting to discuss how CCLC partners with clients and an extensive center tour.
“Why not share with those who are willing to learn?” Palumbo said. “In the grand scheme of things we want quality education for the masses.”
KCOMWEL visitors told their hosts (through an interpreter) they were impressed with how classrooms were organized so everything was at the child’s level. While the CCLC curriculum and its focus on school readiness mirrored what KCOMWEL teachers use in South Korea, the child-centric atmosphere at 90 Park was incredibly impressive to the visitors.
“The direction that CCLC [is] taking on employer sponsored childcare is very impressive and all of us were impressed with the enthusiasm and professionalism your staff expressed,” the KCOMWEL team said in an email. “The ability [of your staff] to introduce your childcare system exceeded our expectations…we [were] very pleased with the quality of service that you guys provide for childcare.”
KCOMWEL appreciated being exposed to a different childcare perspective.
In the end, the opportunity to connect with colleagues, no matter what the language barrier, was what mattered most to both groups.