Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Massachusetts has just announced the release of $4.1 million in facilities grants. Typically, these funds help early education and after school programs repair, renovate, and expand their buildings. This round of funding will focus on early education and care facilities that serve low-income children.

“Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito made the announcement at the Worcester Community Action Council’s (WCAC) early education program in Webster, the site of one of the facilities funded by the 2017 grant awards,” according to a press release from the state’s Executive Office of Education.

“Facility improvements like these, coupled with an already announced 6 percent rate increase for early education providers, ensure that more children have access to high-quality environments and staff that will improve their learning experience,” Governor Charlie Baker added.

The five grant recipients are Child Care of the Berkshires, Belchertown Day School, Inc., Action for Boston Community Development, the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts, and the previously mentioned Worcester Community Action Council. An estimated 301 children will benefit from this investment.

Worcester’s project is a building conversion. The Telegram and Gazette reports:

“Ever since the roof of a Head Start program in Oxford collapsed under extreme winter conditions in 2015, dozens of Webster children have had to use a Head Start program in Southbridge.” So, the Worcester Community Action Council is using its grant to turn a former senior center into a Head Start facility that’s slated to open in the fall of 2018.

The need for this investment was documented in a 2011 report from the Children’s Investment Fund, part of CEDAC, the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation. CEDAC also administers the state’s facilities funding grants.

For children, the impact is substantial. As Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, says in the press release, “Thoughtfully designed and developmentally-appropriate environments help children learn and grow successfully.”

“This strategic investment of public resources helps early education and out-of-school time programs leverage private funding to create high-quality learning spaces for children that otherwise might be out of reach.”