The Finney County Childcare and Early Learning Network’s first child care facility is closer to construction, Finney County Economic Development Corp. said Wednesday at the organization’s monthly board meeting.
Earlier this summer, the FCEDC identified the former, now vacant Homestead rehabilitation facility, located at 2308 N. Third St., as the prospective location for the first of potentially several new child care facilities in Garden City. The building, separated in two sections, would also be the new home of technical skills education hub Great Plains MakerSpace's home base for the Network.
Since then, FCEDC staff have been speaking to stakeholders, including Garden City and Finney County commissioners, about ways to purchase the building, including the possibility of using joint city and county funds set aside for economic development projects.
FCEDC President and CEO Lona DuVall told board members that a private developer had purchased the building and that the Network’s board of directors is still being formed, waiting on representatives from the City of Garden City and Finney County. Those appointments should be made soon, she said.
DuVall said staff and developers must now go to the Garden City Board of Zoning Appeals to obtain a required conditional-use permit for the project. Architectural drawings for the project are already prepared, she said.
“Once we have that conditional-use permit, they’ll be able to start construction right away,” DuVall said.
DuVall declined to disclose the name of the private developer that had purchased the building or the names of representatives appointed to the board, but said the information would be released soon.
The proposed child care center would be the Network’s largest and most versatile, serving 80 to 85 children ages 0 to 5 at once and ideally offering day, evening and overnight on-site care services.
Garden City’s Community Day Care Center’s existing location on College Drive serves a maximum of 97 children, and its now-closed Eighth Street location served a maximum of 68. The FCEDC has stated previously that the Network also plans to open an undetermined number of smaller centers, each serving up to 59 children.
DuVall told board members that she was continuing to work with communities across the region on child care. At a meeting in Phillipsburg last week, she met with representatives from 30 communities that had identified the lack of child care as a significant concern, she said. FCEDC staff is working on creating a child care “tool kit” that will help them offer a child care and early learning training, or “boot camp,” in Garden City. Ideally, interested parties from across the region will be able to attend the local training and bring the knowledge back to their communities, she said.
Recently, she said she spoke with the Dane Hansen Foundation out of northwest Kansas and statewide agency Child Care Aware about collaboration possibilities regarding the training.
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