Since opening on September, 2019, Little Village has seen both formal and informal connections happening among peers and community resources through their partnerships. Caregivers reported in surveys and focus groups increasing satisfaction in parenting and understanding of their child’s development due to their time at Little Village. One of their goals was to develop community class partnerships – Although currently on hold due to COVID-19 safety measures, they had incredible responses from their participants with their Occupational Therapy students, Spanish-speaking language class, and visiting hours from a Registered Dietician from Cradle Cincinnati. They also had private hours with Santa Maria and were scheduled for them to have continual time with their participants at Little Village. They had scheduled to start infant support groups with Cradle Cincinnati and class hours with Help Me Grow as well, all of which unfortunately are on hold until it is safer to meet for our participants. 
The Center is open to all irrespective of their income level.  Since opening, Little Village has had over 500 families participate, but did see the need to focus on continually inviting and including  most at risk families.  Little Village has had great successes with  community partnerships and are looking forward to that continuing once reopened. Some of these include: Cradle Cincinnati, who will lead classes, did referrals, and had their Registered Dietician connect with our families. University of Cincinnati Occupational Therapy Masters students, who were sought out by our families, Santa Maria Community Services, Family Nurturing Center, Help Me Grow, and Little Promises Preschool . Along with this, Little Village has seen an increased in quality volunteers and is bringing in committed volunteers to connect with CGM that had not been able to find a place to serve previously. They have have added two volunteer site leaders who have gone through training and have extensive experience in childhood development and at-risk communities to help in leading and implementing Little Villages goals of play-based learning. 
What has been the impact of this Impact 100 grant?
City Gospel Mission can now proudly say we have crib to career programming to meet the needs of at-risk children at every point of development. Our Hispanic outreach ministry has now expanded to include ministering to Little Village families. Several of our families in other programs have also participated in Little Village, including a mother in our recovery program having visits with her young daughter. For our participants, it has also become a regular stop to connect, play well, and find other resources, increasing their community commitment to an area that had been neglected. Many families have commented on how happy they are that Little Village is in their neighborhood. Many also share how loneliness had been one of the most staggering challenges of parenting in young childhood, and that Little Village helps them feel empowered, seen, and connected to – both with other families and their child. Many of our families have started to develop friendships and connections outside of our program as well, greatly impacting their quality of life and sense of community. Within our families, we saw increased peer relationships that developed among parents and caregivers. For example, we have been able to connect foster care families with mentoring families, and have seen immigrant and citizen mothers making plans to meet at Little Village and then meeting outside of our program for playtimes as well.
Seeing the ripple effects of these valuable relationships both into the community and among the individual family’s success has been incredibly encouraging. We have also impacted connecting families with the necessary community resources to succeed. We have educated families on the availability of Help Me Grow, Cradle Cincinnati, and helped connect with Registered Dietician and Occupational Therapists. It was incredible to see how many people responded to having resources and open question times. One mother in particular said she always wondered about her child’s sensitivity to eating textures, but did not know it was something she should ask about. Another caregiver, when we had the OT students, came regularly to hear about positive baby movements, and remarked that she never understood how important crawling was, and that she probably wouldn’t have thought about looking into Occupational Therapy for her child at all if they had not been apart of the place she already came to. Having the resources to improve family connections and understanding childhood development as a part of our playful learning has impacted how parents and caregivers think about their child’s growth and increased success outcomes for those families.
– Melanie Gomez – Program Director