This summer, Massachusetts awarded $4 million in grants to help early education and after-school programs improve their physical spaces. The money comes from the Early Education and Care and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund, which was created by the state Legislature.
As we’ve blogged before, engaging classrooms, lively safe playgrounds, and well-designed bathrooms are some of the key features that create nurturing environments for young children.
But programs often can’t afford the costs of badly needed construction and renovations. That’s why these capital improvement funds are so important.
In a statement, Governor Charlie Baker said, “Renovating and repairing facilities helps achieve our goal of improving the quality of early education and care.”
Massachusetts’ Secretary of Education James Peyser said. “We know that building deficiencies impact the quality of teaching and learning in early childhood and out-of-school time facilities. These grants were created to help non-profit providers serving children living in low-income communities improve their facilities.”
Administered by the Children’s Investment Fund, an affiliate of CEDAC (the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation), the grant funds were given to four organizations:
Citizens for Citizens, Fall River, $1 million
The funds will pay for “playground improvements, window replacements, and critical safety and security upgrades to an existing Head Start program in a 118-year-old building,” according to the Children’s Investment Fund.
Crispus Attucks Children’s Center, Dorchester, $1 million
The center “will replace the HVAC system and make building envelope upgrades. It also plans to improve the design of its infant area and reconfigure toddler classrooms.
Elizabeth Stone House, Roxbury, $1 million
The funds will be used to build “a 5-story multi-service building which will include 32 units of affordable housing and a licensed early childhood education (ECE) program serving 51 children.”
Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start, Springfield, $1 million
Head Start officials plan to build “an Educare model facility for 141 ECE children.”
All four organizations “serve publicly subsidized families, have demonstrated financial need, and have secured additional funding to pay for a portion of their project costs,” the statement from Governor Baker’s office explains.
The benefits of these efforts will be substantial. As Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito explained, “High-quality programs help young children develop healthy learning habits, which is good for the community and for our Commonwealth as a whole.”
And as Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, adds, “We are pleased to make these awards as this public investment in building construction and renovation of early education programs will benefit children, local communities, and the state for years to come.”