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What is Sheltering Arms?

Sheltering Arms is Georgia's oldest nonprofit early childhood education program, and one of its most respected.  Our mission is to serve working families with high quality, affordable child care and education and comprehensive support services, as well as to provide professional development for early childhood educators and community outreach.  Founded by Atlanta volunteers in 1888, Sheltering Arms now annually serves more than 3,600 children, ages six weeks to five years old, and their families, in 15 centers in 6 metro Atlanta counties.  Sheltering Arms is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization.

Sheltering Arms has been nationally recognized for the success of its school readiness program.  Our honors include:

  National Recognition for Quality.  In 1946, Sheltering Arms was one of the first child care programs in the country to be accredited by the Child Welfare League of America, and currently 12 Sheltering Arms centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  Sheltering Arms' curriculum, teacher qualifications, facilities, and health and safety procedures are administered based on the highest quality standards in the industry, and are consistent in all Sheltering Arms centers.

•  National Head Start Association Program of Excellence, Head Start's highest award for quality. Only 21 of the nation's 2600 Head Start programs have earned this honor.

•  Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Centers of Distinction. Only 2% of Georgia centers have achieved this recognition. DECAL uses Sheltering Arms as a best practices demonstration site for staff training.


• 2010 National Association for the Education of Young Children.  One of the top ten programs in the nation for engaging families from diverse backgrounds in the education of their children.


•  2007 Managing for Excellence Award Finalist.  Recognized by The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta for outstanding managerial achievement and thoughtful planning.

•  Achieved all 1800 Federally-Legislated Head Start Performance Standards, according to 2007 review by a team of national experts.

•  One of 7 programs selected from around the country by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Human Services Workforce Initiative as a best practices model for the retention and professional development of frontline human service workers.

•  The Harvard Family Research Project, in collaboration with the National Association of State Boards of Education, has twice included Sheltering Arms in its studies of 7 select national child development programs noted for innovative work and accomplishment.

•  Certified by Family Support America, one of the first 20 programs nationwide to be so recognized.

•  The 2004 MLK Award was presented by Emory University's Goizueta School of Business, Rollins School of Public Health, and Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in recognition of Sheltering Arms' history of commitment to social justice.

•  Cornell University chose Sheltering Arms as Georgia's lead agency for its Family Development Training and Credentialing Program in 2003.

•  Charity Navigator
, America's largest independent evaluator of charities, has awarded Sheltering Arms its top rating of Four Stars for excellence in fiscal management for five of the past six years.

•  One of the top 10 centers in the nation, said Child Care Business magazine in its "The Best and The Brightest" edition.

•  The 2003 Community Impact Award was presented by United Way's Alexis de Tocqueville Society to Sheltering Arms.

•  The Center for the Study of Social Policy, funded through the Doris Duke Foundation, chose Sheltering Arms as one of 21 programs in the nation to be part of a campaign to promote quality early childhood and family support programs as a first line of defense against child abuse and neglect.

•  The 2002 Economic Development Award for "Excellence in Business" was awarded to Sheltering Arms by the Development Authority of Fulton County.

•  Georgia Children's Trust Fund Commission Jeff Townsend Award recognized Sheltering Arms as the first preschool in Georgia to implement the Second Step violence prevention curriculum.

•  US Fund for UNICEF and the Carter Center recognized Sheltering Arms with the 2000 Jean Childs Young Award.

•  The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Excellence in Service Award was given to Sheltering Arms in 2000.

•  Sheltering Arms' Curriculum has been approved for use in the Georgia PreK program and is routinely purchased by child care and professional development programs throughout the country, including Georgia State University. Sheltering Arms was represented in the statewide P-16 Initiative that established a developmental continuum for education in Georgia from kindergarten through college. The Sheltering Arms curriculum was then tailored to dovetail with this continuum.

•  SPARK Hub.  Smart Start Georgia and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation chose Sheltering Arms as a Gwinnett County hub for the SPARK Initiative, which will improve student transition from preschool to elementary school.

•  Sheltering Arms' Developmental Assessment Instrument has been tested and confirmed as a reliable and valid assessment instrument by early childhood researchers.

•  Visits by Policy Makers.  Georgia's Closing the Achievement Gap Commission (2002), The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (2000), and a plethora of other international delegations and state, local, and national policy makers have visited Sheltering Arms to learn about the role early childhood education can play in community development and school performance.

•  The 2003 National Child Care Teacher Award was given by TYLENOL and the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation to Ruth Spry of Sheltering Arms Longview Center in Douglasville.


385 Centennial Olympic Park Drive, NW, Atlanta, GA 30313 | 404-523-2767
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