The Neighborhood of Helping Kids the Company That Bears Fred Rogers' Name Continues His Legacy with Innovations in Childhood Care and Education Here and across the U.S

By Gannon, Joyce | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 15, 2014 | Go to article overview

The Neighborhood of Helping Kids the Company That Bears Fred Rogers' Name Continues His Legacy with Innovations in Childhood Care and Education Here and across the U.S


Gannon, Joyce, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The up-close footage of narcotics officers ascending the stairs in a bleak urban apartment building on their way to a drug bust looks like it was lifted from a television news documentary. But the raw video of New Haven, Conn., police storming the premises where a baby resides is actually part of a series used to train law enforcement officials who deal with situations that involve children.

"One-on-One: Connecting Cops & Kids," produced by the Pittsburgh- based Fred Rogers Co., has been rolled out to police departments across the U.S. since its launch a decade ago and has received high marks for using real-life situations to teach police how to respond to children ranging from infants to teens.

"Cops & Kids" is among the lesser-known initiatives developed by the high-profile Rogers organization that is best known for keeping Fred Rogers' legacy alive with PBS Kids' shows "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and "Peg + Cat."

But the police training series represents the kind of work that has helped to burnish Pittsburgh's reputation as a leading center for innovation in early childhood care and education.

The region is "prime to be a place to really pilot around universal access for all children," said Michelle Figlar, executive director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, a membership organization that provides professional development training and advocacy for early childhood educators and care providers in 10 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.

With the announcement in March that Pittsburgh was one of 14 cities nationwide tapped by the National League of Cities and the U.S. Department of Education to be a site for a "community conversation" on education and after-school programs, the region is poised to garner more attention as well as increased support for new and existing programs, said Ms. Figlar.

"It's perfect timing," she said. "We have a network of people who just come together to get things done."

Mayor Bill Peduto, who sits on the National League of Cities' committee overseeing education and advocacy, has made education a priority of his administration and has asked President Barack Obama to make Pittsburgh a laboratory for early childhood education initiatives.

But some could argue the city has served as an incubator of sorts for early childhood education going back to the 1950s.

Besides children's programming pioneer Rogers, the region has been the site of research and practical applications developed by other early childhood experts, including Benjamin Spock, the best- selling author and pediatrician who taught at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 1950s; Margaret McFarland, a child psychologist who consulted closely with Rogers and who co-founded the Arsenal Family & Children's Center in Lawrenceville; and Erik Erikson, a child psychologist who taught at Pitt in the 1950s and is widely credited with coining the phrase "identity crisis. …

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