Local board working on large child care center for Marion County

Max Heinrichs, Erin Hein, Carla Harmon and Tristen Cope (in blue) serve on the Hillsboro Community Childcare Center board and are working on a child care center for Marion County.

A child care expansion committee was formed in January of 2019 to analyze the need for child care throughout Marion County. This initial meeting brought together stakeholders, organizations, and the business sector to express the challenges and barriers their business and the community was facing in regard to finding available child care for their workforce. This has led to a workforce sustainability issue within Marion County, as families are unable to find care and therefore unable to hold employment.

In May of 2021, the expansion committee became an official board within the state of Kansas under the name, Hillsboro Community Childcare Center Inc. Currently serving on the board is Tristen Cope (K-State Research and Extension Office), Erin Hein (Marion County Health Department), Max Heinrichs (Hillsboro Community Foundation), Carla Harmon (USD 410), Matt Stiles (City of Hillsboro), and Anthony Roy (Parent Sector). The official board will have a total of nine board member positions representing various sectors across the County. The remaining positions will be filled in the coming weeks.

The board has spent the past three years researching, analyzing, and exploring various building options for a child care center. Through research completed by the board, we found that Marion County is currently only meeting 31% of the potential need for child care according to Child Care Aware of Kansas. This means there are 553 children under age six within the county potentially needing care. A survey conducted by the board in July of 2021, indicated infant care as the number one type of care needed for families. The need for infant care within Hillsboro is even greater, as the city currently has only two infant spots for children under the age of twelve months.

In December of 2021, Trinity Church reached out to the board about their building space as a potential child care center. The board is excited to announce that Trinity is graciously gifting the church building to the Hillsboro Community Childcare Center to house a child care center with a maximum capacity of 99 children. In addition, the vision for the child care center includes 18 infant slots to help address the need for infant care. The center would also have the availability to house community organizations and businesses within the basement of the Trinity Community Center.

The board plans to partner with local businesses, current child care providers, churches, school districts, and a post-secondary school to make the child care center possible. Through research and communication with other child care centers, community involvement is essential in the sustainability of the business. Knowing the financial assistance a community-based child care center will need, the board plans to receive funding from various sources including grants, government funding, community tax credits and private donations. The board is also in the process of becoming a 501 c 3. If you are interested in making a donation to the Hillsboro Community Childcare Center, a donation can be sent to the Hillsboro Community Foundation with the memo line, Hillsboro Community Childcare Center.

As the board continues to move forward with the child care center, they will provide updates to the community on the progress being made. If you have any questions about the initiative, please contact a member of the Hillsboro Community Childcare Center Board.

Information provided by Tristen Cope, K-State Research and Extension and Erin Hein, Marion County Health Department.

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