Lamar Missouri Tuesday celebrated the opening of a new child care facility with an open house and Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting ceremony. It's the result of Economic Security Corporation's Early Head Start program which has worked creating partnerships in over 6 Southwest Missouri communities to expand high-quality no cost child care opportunities. The corporation says these public and private partnerships are now poised to take a major leap forward in many Southwest Missouri communities, creating jobs, employee training, expanding affordable licensed child care and a new business.
"We are excited about the partnership for Lamar specifically because potentially any students that we have in our high school that need day care during the day will have priority access to the facility," says Lamar Schools Superintendent Zach Harris.
Economic Security Corporation's (ESC) Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) grant is funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and encourages public/private partnerships to provide quality licensed child care for infants and toddlers. ESC applied for the grant after a recent community needs assessment showed a lack of child care in various communities for the youngest of children.
According to the American Community Survey 2007, U.S. Census Bureau, child care is a critical workforce support in Missouri, allowing 175,000 parents to go to work every day.
"98 percent of parents who use our services stay employed our stay in school the entire time their child is with us, "says Leisa Harnar with ESC.
ESC says that because 90% of a human's brain structure develops before the age of 5, early childhood experiences are critical for success in school and later life.
"90 percent of our children leave us and transition into school at or above their age expected developmental level," Harnar says.
A total of ten child care sites are planned to open or expand through this grant. Construction has been completed in two of the three sites in the cities of Carthage, Noel and Joplin. These sites include public and private partnerships with the Carthage Family Literacy Council, the Noel Public Housing Authority, ESC's Lamar Community Development and an expansion of ESC's Early Head Start program in Joplin. Early childhood services have started in two of the three centers.
Four other licensed child care sites are currently completing construction including a public partnership with the Lamar school district and private partnerships with two Joplin local child care facilities. Through this grant, ESC will also help an entrepreneur open a new family child care home in Neosho, creating a new business.
Written contracts are being developed to begin renovations with additional partners in Southwest City, Joplin and Webb City. All child care sites are expected to be serving
children by the end of the year.
This early childhood opportunity focuses on serving children ages zero to 3 years. The grant targets families who are working or going to school. The grant award will provide $6 million dollars over a 5 year period. Over 50 new jobs will be created once the grant is fully implemented. The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership initiative brings together the best of Early Head Start and child care through layered funding. Federal Early Head Start funds are combined with Child Care Development Funds (CCDF) administered by the State of Missouri.
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