Anne Colwell comes to the agency after spending the last nine years working as vice president of human resources for Southcoast Health System, which includes three acute care hospitals and about 50 ancillary health sites. She was also responsible for safety, security and emergency preparedness.
“Agency-wide we are very excited about her arrival,” said director of development Sue Daggett. “Anne hit the ground running by really making sure she’s visible across our service area and with a variety of our constituents. She’s bringing great vision and great skill sets that we’re all looking forward to utilizing.”
Colwell says the job appealed to her because she has lived in Sandwich for 22 years and wants to work and contribute directly to the community she lives in. This includes working in the non-profit world and doing advocacy based work. Her love of children seemed very evident during a recent photo shoot when she read to three students from the on-site day care center. After the photo shoot and a tour of the center, she excused herself so she could finish reading to the kids, as she had promised them she would.
In her first two weeks on the job, Colwell tried to visit as many sites as she could, in order to talk to employees, families and kids. She even got a wedding proposal from an eight-year-old boy during her first week.
“I’m so proud to be here because of the wonderful legacy of this organization and the amazing work that Mary Pat Messmer did,” Colwell said. “As the new CEO, I’m really excited about taking this organization to the next level. We just haven’t fully decided what that is because I need to keep meeting with staff and going out to our sites.”
She also plans to connect with community partners, state and federal legislators, town governments and school officials. She has also planned a meeting with the Cape Cod Young Professionals to see if Cape Cod Child Development can partner with them to respond to related needs in the community. The group has already identified that day care is a big issue on Cape Cod.
The agency already offers many services to the community. They provide home-based services to more than 800 children a year through their Early Intervention program. The program is for children from ages of infant to three, and is open to any child, regardless of family income.
“We then have the Head Start program, which is the day care center for kids ages three to five at locations all across the Cape and Wareham,” Colwell said. “Those are wonderful programs that provide parents with the safety and security of knowing that their children are not only well taken care of but Head Start programs [also] have the highest level of criteria in a day care setting. It’s a really great program serving at this point over 450 kids.”
Another important part of their programming is providing oversight, a support network, curriculum and, for parents in need of financial help, a voucher system for over 30 licensed home day care providers.
The agency also offers before and after school care for school age children ages five to 12, and offers that age group full day programming in the summer. They assist about 20 young mothers a year through a teen parent program that helps the mothers continue their education, provides child care and assigns family workers who provide them with resources across the board.
“The other thing a lot of people don’t know is that we provide transportation,” she said. “We have buses that are out picking up children of all ages, whether they go to the family child care homes or our Head Start program.”
Colwell said one of the first things she plans to do is initiate a strategic planning process from an organizational standpoint with the board of directors. She and other leaders of the non-profit will engage staff, constituents and community partners to investigate what the next steps will be.
“We will be looking at the needs of all age children,” she says. “We’re already the premier child care resource for parents, but we’d like to be a resource for a broader array of programs that fit the community’s needs.”