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Early Childhood Community Center

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Douglas County’s Urgent Need

Every day working families and employers feel the effect of a broken child care system. Parents who need or want to be working are unable to because they can't afford or find child care. A lack of overnight and weekend care restricts the shifts parents can work. Even those who have child care face issues with stability resulting in tardiness, absenteeism and lack of focus on the job. The cost of child care can be an overwhelming burden for working parents, especially for low-income families. The lack of affordable child care forces parents to choose between their job and caring for their children, leading to a reduced workforce participation rate in Douglas County, and increase on financial burdens on young families.

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

The first five years of a child’s life are the most critical period for brain development and set the stage for all future learning. Quality early care and education have been shown to have a profound impact on the lifelong well-being. education, and lifetime income of children. Achievement gaps between income levels and ethnicities can be seen even before kindergarten. Quality child care and education narrow this gap, providing positive long-term effects, increasing economic stability for families, and helping to break cycles of poverty. If we can reach and serve families when their children are young, we can help them build the support network they need, setting their children up for success.

LAUNCHING A COMMUNITY MODEL

In the summer of 2021, a group of community stakeholders explored the community's early childhood needs. CCC is the coordinating organization responsible for making this group's vision a reality. In October 2021, the project received a $582,000 three-year Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Grant from the Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund. In July 2022, Douglas County awarded $3.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to acquire a building to serve as the home for this vision and to jumpstart renovations. CCC purchased 346 Maine Street and is partnering with Bartlett & West Inc. and Dahl Construction, Inc. Renovations are estimated to be completed in the fall of 2024.

Early Childhood Community Center

With a focus on accessibility and inclusion, an early childhood community center is the first step in changing the early childhood landscape to create a system that works for Douglas County through three key components:

EARLY LEARNING & CARE - FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER - BUSINESS INCUBATOR

THE VISION

This project transforms early childhood in Douglas County through the creation of a new licensed child care facility, a support network for early childhood professionals, and a Family Resource Center to support all those who care for our youngest.

KEY FEATURES

•  Seven classrooms designed for infants & young toddlers.

•  Each classroom has secluded, outdoor landing.

•  Sensory rooms provide calm & safe spaces for individuals.

•  Dedicated, private spaces for breastfeeding.

•  Access to secure, outdoor play area designed for free play.

•  Licensed for up to 138 children per 24/hours.

•  Drop-in & occasional care opportunities.

•  Non-traditional hours including overnight & weekend.

•  Sliding-scale tuition to ensure access for our community.

Early Learning & Care

Every Douglas County family with young children should have access to high-quality early care and education they can afford. We are adding child care spaces for infants and toddlers because it is our community's greatest need. Child care professionals have long struggled to provide affordable high-quality child care for infants and toddlers due to the low child-teacher ratios required to support safety and responsive care. This means infant and toddler care comes with significantly higher staffing and tuition costs.

KEY FEATURES

•  Indoor play structure designed for cooperative & unstructured play.

•  Clothing closet with free maternity wear & kids clothing.

•  Food pantry facilitated by partnership with Just Food.

•  Board Book Library with age-appropriate materials.

•  Workstations provide parents access to internet.

•  Community meeting space with modern amenities.

•  Support services & programming aimed to help parents grow skillsets.

•  On-site social workers to provide support & more.

Family Resource Center

Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. It can be challenging to navigate natural feelings of fear and anxiety if a parent doesn’t have the proper support system. Imagine having a safe, engaging, indoor space to get all the answers.

 

Douglas County’s first, certified Family Resource Center plays a pivotal role in providing a supportive and empowering environment for families. The public space will serve as a valuable hub where parents can access resources, guidance, and services to navigate the challenges of parenthood. From parenting workshops and educational materials to counseling services and community referrals, the Family Resource Center offers a comprehensive approach to family well-being.

Business Incubator

Even with our early education facility operating at maximum capacity, Douglas County would still face a significant deficit of available child care spaces. Therefore, the Early Childhood Community Center will be a foundational resource for other early child care and education professionals. Future programming will provide new professionals with a supported experience in their first year before they launch their own licensed child care business.

KEY FEATURES

•  Coaching to produce appropriate curriculum & STEAM-based activities.

•  Professional development training on:     

-  Early Care & Education     

-  Marketing & Social Media Management   

 -  Safety & Health Practices     

-  Licensing & Regulations     

-  Policies & Procedures     

-  Business Practices     

-  Leadership Opportunities

•  Partnership with the Small Business Development Center.

Brighten Our Future

We need your help to complete our campaign & make child care more accessible for Lawrence & Douglas County. Your contribution to the Early Childhood Community Center campaign will be recognized and appreciated now and in the future. We gratefully offer the following naming opportunities in recognition of your gift:

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DONOR WALL RECOGNITION

Gifts of $1,000 or greater will be recognized collectively on a donor wall to be prominently displayed at the Main Entrance of the Family Resource Center.

DONOR BOOK RECOGNITION

All gifts will be recognized in a Campaign Celebration Program following the campaign.

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