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The Ark Preschool

Ark Child eating with chopsticks

The Ark is the only state-accredited preschool for homeless children in Baltimore City. The school serves children ages 3 and 4 years old whose families are homeless and/or in the early stages of addiction recovery. The Ark is open from 8:30am until 2:45pm Monday through Friday, and is licensed to enroll 20 children at a time. The Ark serves over 60 children annually in a year-round educational setting with an MSDE-approved curriculum. Children participate in Ark programming for an average of 4 ½ months. Children are assessed upon arrival using The Ark’s evaluation tool called the Child Assessment Protocol (CAP), which provides an accurate and meaningful evaluation of children enrolled in a short-term emergency preschool setting. The CAP assesses language skills, word acquisition, listening and comprehension, gross and fine motor skills, and social behavior, and is predictive of standardized test results.

While at The Ark, children receive:

  • individual care and attention
  • early childhood education designed to promote their development
  • nutritionally balanced meals and snacks
  • a safe and calm place where they can play and socialize

Children are referred to The Ark from a number of family shelter programs, including My Sister's Place, the Salvation Army Booth House, Karis Home, Sarah's Hope at Mount. Street, the Rose Street Shelter, and the South Baltimore Homeless Shelter at Christ Lutheran Church. Some families are referred by treatment programs. Others hear about us from parents who have used our services.

Photo by Nancy Newman.

Program Services

All children must have a recent physical to enroll at The Ark. Our partnership with Health Care for the Homeless provides free physicals for children who need them.

Children are monitored throughout enrollment to guide staff in working with students individually to reach age-appropriate development. Documented developmental gains are consistently evident for all children who are enrolled in The Ark long enough for a second assessment.

  • Children are served a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day.
  • Dental care is also part of our routine, including regular tooth-brushing time, and on-site dental screenings and fluoride treatments through Baltimore City Health Department.
  • Volunteers from the community, local colleges, and universities provide help to each child.
  • Transportation is provided to and from The Ark for children who are living in certain city shelters.

In addition to preparing children for transition into school, Ark staff works with client families to help move them out of their crisis situation. Experienced staff assists parents in obtaining access to services such as employment information, health and dental information, transition to permanent housing with in-kind donations where needed, and other services and transportation funds.

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Location and Hours

The Ark is located in Johnston Square Elementary School, 1101 Valley Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.

The program is open weekdays from 8:30 am to 2:45 pm.

Links & Resources

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For further information, please contact

Nancy E. Newman, LCSW-C, Director | nnewman@ecsm.org
The Ark @ Johnston Square, 1101 Valley Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
phone (410) 522-1026 | fax (410) 558-0344