Ashland builds daycare to help expand job opportunities

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ASHLAND, Ohio — Plans for a new daycare center in the heart of Ashland are coming to life as the city aims to help expand job opportunities for parents in need.

The new daycare is set to be built on a donated lot on Ford Drive in Ashland Business Park, which is home to 27 businesses with a total of 1,200 full-time equivalent employees. Plans for the center include an initial capacity to serve up to 150 children, from infants through school age, with the possibility of expansion.

“Our Women’s Fund child care initiative began about two years ago when we asked the question at our annual retreat: ‘What is the biggest thing holding women back in Ashland County?’ And so that discussion ended up focusing on child care, which is how our child care initiative was born,” said Kristin Aspin, director of programs for the Ashland County Community Foundation. In the beginning, we learned from talking with parents, employers, child care providers and others that child care for many families in our community is unaffordable and inaccessible. school age, with an emphasis on more infant care and more toddler care.”

The need for child care at this age is critical in Ashland County. According to the Ashland County Community Foundation, there are more than 3,000 children under five in the county, but only 56 licensed child care options for toddlers and only 26 licensed options for infants. . There are no centers open beyond the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“Employers want to be able to recruit talent, retain it, and parents want to be able to work and support their families. And child care is a barrier for many,” Aspin said.

Mayor Matt Miller said the effort to open the daycare directly addresses a major need in the town of Ashland.

“One of the biggest challenges facing the Ashland community is finding enough men and women to fill all of the vacancies that exist in our many manufacturers and small businesses in the region,” Miller said. “It’s a great example of a community working together to solve a problem that exists within their borders.

An individual wanted to help the city create more childcare options and donated the land in the heart of the business district. A non-profit organization has signed on to run the daycare, which also allows it to receive grants to keep it running once it opens. The center will offer income-based child care rates as well as employer-supported settlement programs and an endowment fund will help support operations.

Much of the Ashland community has come together to support the center – from family services, the chamber of commerce, local law enforcement, churches and others in the nonprofit sector. lucrative – the project was a true collaboration.

“It’s a $4.5 million project that includes the endowment fund, a $1 million component. We raised $3.2 million today,” Aspin said.

Families like Roeliff “Bubba” Pryor’s are eager to have a daycare they can use in ways they haven’t before.

“I would say the biggest hurdle for us was the availability of time, not having access to something early in the morning to drop the kids off,” Pryor said. “I think it would put a lot of stress on my significant other if I could help pick them up or take them to daycare or if they could stay there for a bit later, if I had to work on something like that. I I feel like that would be a big plus for us.”

Aspin said expanding access to childcare for working parents will not only help those who are struggling to balance things now, but could also encourage those who cannot seek employment. due to a lack of child care to enter the workforce soon.

“This initiative and the availability of this daycare allows parents to enter the workforce, stay in the workforce, advance their careers and provide for their families,” Aspin said. “We’re not just looking to help those who are already employed, but ultimately to help people who aren’t yet employed, who want to be employed.”

Construction of the new daycare is expected to begin in early 2023 with the expectation that the daycare can open and begin operating by the start of the 2023 school year.

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