Instead of investing Head Start dollars in a rental property, it's going into an agency that will benefit the community in a larger way, and we were able to increase the number of children they could serve.
– Little Land of Love Learning Center and The Family Conservancy (TFC), Pamela Black, Head Start director, Kansas City, KS
Lee Howell beams with excitement as she describes the final stages of the extensive improvements that are being made to the garden-level space her center will soon occupy.
The process began when Howell, the owner of Little Land of Love Learning Center, attended a recruitment event hosted by The Family Conservancy (TFC) and decided to partner with TFC to provide Early Head Start services at her program. Discussions began about facility issues and it became apparent that the best plan would be to move the facility. The old location is small, dark, a rental property, and in need of extensive improvements.
"When we first met with Little Land of Love Learning Center director and staff, it was apparent that they truly cared for the children in their care and were already serving the families Early Head Start is wanting to reach. They did the best they could to provide high-quality care, but their facility and available funds were limited," explained TFC Head Start Director Pamela Black.
The new space, which will be renamed "The Rock at Stony Point," is available through a partnership with The Rock Church of the Nazarene and upgraded with an investment from the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships start up funds. It is a true community collaboration. Black explains why the move was the right choice: "Instead of investing Head Start dollars in a rental property, it's going into an agency that will benefit the community in a larger way, and we were able to increase the number of children they could serve."
With the improvements, the center will more than double their capacity, increasing from 23 to 50 children. Seven of the additional spaces will serve infants and toddlers, an especially high need in the Kansas City, KS community.
"We get calls almost everyday; even if we had both locations, we wouldn't have enough room to meet demand. Many of the families in this community have multiple children and it's important to be able to keep them together, especially for infants," noted Howell.
The space was transformed in just two months by a small business, W.J.R. Plumbing and More—new tile was laid; fresh paint was applied; walls were erected to provide sound barriers; changing stations and sinks were installed; kitchen appliances were replaced; the heating and cooling system was replaced; new windows were installed; a toddler-friendly restroom was added; additional restrooms were updated; equipment and furniture was secured, and a fenced-in playground was added.
The partnership has yielded a much-needed space with the capacity to serve families with children ranging from infants to age 12 and provide a nurturing environment where children, 98 percent of whom are growing up with the challenges of poverty, have daily support to ensure they grow up healthy and ready for school.