Church day care receives grant

A local child care provider is one of 11 programs in the state to receive grant money for an expansion to serve more children in Jackson County.

Brownstown Christian Church Daycare Ministry and Preschool will receive up to $50,000 from Early Learning Indiana to remodel its facility at 702 W. Spring St. to add three new classrooms and reconfigure existing space to create an infant/toddler wing.

Tina Howell, day care and preschool director, said the grant will fund interior renovations and the purchase of furniture, classroom supplies and other needed items.

“There used to be church office space in the front part, and we had a lot of unused space because the offices were not set up in a way we could utilize them,” she said. “So we will be knocking down interior walls to have enough space so we can reach maximum capacity for each classroom.”

The building currently has six classrooms, with an open concept floor plan for the day care. Those spaces will be enclosed, and the cafeteria area will be eliminated as part of the renovation. Children will eat meals in their classrooms as a group, Howell said.

Water service and changing tables will be added to all rooms in the infant/toddler area.

The day care and preschool serve 75 children, infants through fifth grade, with a maximum capacity of 82, Howell said. That capacity will increase by 33 to 115 students once the remodeling is completed. Howell said she expects most of the work to be finished this summer.

Howell said she won’t know the amount of the grant until next week, but she applied for the maximum amount, plus additional money available for special consideration for a total of $57,000.

Brownstown Christian Church Daycare Ministry and Preschool is one of 12 local providers of the state-funded On My Way Pre-K program for low-income families.

“We are so excited to get this grant money,” Howell said.

Natasha Langford, On My Way Pre-K program manager for Jackson County, said two more local providers currently are working on their Level 3 Paths to QUALITY through the state’s Family and Social Services Administration.

A Level 3 out of the four levels means the program has high-quality curriculum in place that supports early childhood learning and school readiness.

Jackson County was chosen along with four other counties in 2014 to pilot On My Way Pre-K, which provides vouchers for qualifying families to send them to any of the providers in the area. Other counties participating are Marion, Allen, Lake and Vanderburgh.

“This shows there is a lot of great work going on in our county in the area of early learning,” Langford said. “Providers are continuously working hard to raise the level of quality, increase capacity and programs while providing the foundation every child needs to be successful.”

Open enrollment in On My Way Pre-K for the 2016-17 school year began Jan. 11.

Applications may be picked up at and returned to the Jackson County Learning Center, 323 Dupont Drive in Seymour, or families can visit onmy wayprek.org.

The deadline to enroll is March 25.

The program currently is serving 65 students in its first year, but Jackson County Education Coalition officials hope that number will grow to at least 100 by this fall. It was estimated that more than 250 children in the county were eligible to participate who were not already enrolled in a preschool program.

Early Learning Indiana announced 11 programs will receive a total of $470,000 to expand high-quality early education opportunities.

“We know that early education is both a meaningful opportunity to support young learners and a critical support for working families,” said Ted Maple, president and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. “By expanding opportunities to early education, these programs are ensuring that more children get a good educational start in programs that are committed to quality.”

Howell said with the expansion, Brownstown Christian Church Daycare Ministry and Preschool will be able to provide much more than just childcare to families.

“We have curriculum that we are teaching them in each classroom, even the youngest ones, to level the playing field when they get to kindergarten,” she said. “That way, they aren’t playing catchup. We also are teaching them and their families about Christ and being advocates for them by providing services through outreach.”

At a glance

On My Way Pre-K providers in Jackson County

Crothersville

Crothersville Elementary Preschool and Miss Crystal’s

Medora

Medora Elementary Preschool

Brownstown

God’s Lil Blessings LLC and Brownstown Christian Church Daycare Ministry and Preschool

Seymour

Terri’s Playhouse, Lord’s Lambs Preschool, Head Start, Above and Beyond Child Care, Zion Lutheran School Pre-K, Laugh and Learn Daycare and Margaret R. Brown Elementary School

At a glance

For questions about applying, the program or providers, contact Natasha Langford at 812-519-2923, ext. 304, or via email at natasha@jceconline.org.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.