Douglas County child care organization receives nearly $600,000 grant to support Kennedy Early Childhood Center

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Kennedy Early Childhood Center, located at 1605 Davis Road.

A Douglas County child care organization recently received a nearly $600,000 grant to help support the development of the new early-childhood development center in eastern Lawrence.

Community Children’s Center announced in a news release Thursday that it had received the grant from the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, which supports efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect. The organization said the funds — a total of $582,000 over the next three years — would help establish the early-childhood development center at the former Kennedy Elementary School of the Lawrence school district.

The organization said the funds would be used on three initiatives: the creation of a family resource center to help meet the needs of families with young children, the creation of a provider academy to support childhood care and education professionals, and a community center to increase the “number of accessible, affordable and available high-quality child care slots” in the county.

Along with the grant, the organization received $10,000 from both the LMH Health Foundation and the Lawrence chamber of commerce.

Kim Polson, executive director of CCC, said in the news release that the organization hoped the grant could be the foundation of a “new cross-sector, community investment” in the county’s early-childhood system.

“Child care and education is pivotal for children, families, businesses, the economy and the future of Douglas County,” Polson said.

The grant also furthers the Lawrence school district’s plan for the Kennedy building, located at 1605 Davis Road.

Earlier this year, the district chose to close the elementary school in that building as part of its efforts to address budget concerns that stemmed from enrollment drops associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the district’s leaders at the time said the closure of the elementary school also provided the opportunity to create an early-childhood education center at the building, the Journal-World reported. The building is now known as the Kennedy Early Childhood Center.

Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis said in an email to the Journal-World that he was excited by the news of the grant. He said the center could help provide families with access to care and education to meet their children’s needs.

“We know that Douglas County families of young children are struggling to meet basic needs, find affordable child care, and connect with services,” Lewis said. “We also know that early care and education can have a profound impact on the education and lifelong well-being and success of children, families, and communities.”

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