By Cristina Janney
PLAINVILLE — Plainville $270, The Dane G. Hansen Foundation and other community partners have joined forces to open a new child care group home in Plainville this fall.
Plainville was one of four communities that received grants from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation for homes that will be used to house new child care group homes.
The house will accommodate 12 children at a time from birth to school age. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The group home will be owned and operated by Plainville 270 USD.
The Rooks County Health Center donated to the daycare project, and it and the school district will each have four spaces reserved at the home.
$270 received a second grant for a new building for its preschool program. The new kindergarten will have two rooms with a capacity of 20 pupils each. Morning and afternoon sessions will be offered. The district will double its slots from 40 to 80.
The school already has 45 preschool students registered for the start of the school year and a waiting list for daycare.
The preschool site is under construction, but $270 superintendent Lisa Gehring said she hopes the building will be open by the start of the school year in August.
Both the daycare center and the new preschool building will be located on school district-owned land west of Plainville Elementary School at 203 SE Cardinal Ave.
Gehring said the project is essential to building the community of Plainville.
“We have families in our community who don’t have children because there are no spaces available,” she said.
Gehring said demand was so high for child care slots that the school district was considering a phase three, which would be a second group home for child care.
Gehring said she thinks the preschool and child care partnership with the school district provides a huge benefit.
“It allows us to work with our educators,” she said. “We can provide a consistent curriculum throughout. We literally start at birth. Then we have a consistent curriculum throughout graduation.”
The National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs found that high-quality early childhood programs can yield $4 to $9 for every dollar invested. A 2009 study of Perry Preschool, a high-quality program for 3-5 year olds, estimated a return to society of approximately $7 to $12 for every dollar invested.
“Hopefully we can really get them off to a positive start and work with them and catch some things early,” Gehring said. “They will have all the benefits of being read and able to write, color and explore, so they have a good start.”
Gehring said the project began several years ago with the expansion of the school district’s preschool. At one time, Plainville had several preschools, but they closed, leaving only the US$270 preschool and the Sacred Heart Catholic Preschool.
US$270 opened enrollment in its preschool in 2019. In its second year of operation, the preschool doubled in size. At the end of the last school year, the program was almost at capacity with 38 of the 40 places occupied.
Plainville has several home daycares, but they are at capacity and have long waiting lists, Gehring said.
“We knew child care was such a need,” Gehring said. “If we as a school district can provide that early start for these kids and help our families, that’s what we want to do.”
The school district has hired a daycare director, Leasa Hrabe, and two providers, Jayde Hoiser and Shelby Paramore.
The school district will also provide after-school care for school-aged children through the program.
Between the kindergarten and daycare there will be a storm shelter. Both buildings will also have a covered walkway so children can easily move between preschool and daycare.
Gehring said the proximity of the two programs should be convenient for parents, who won’t have to manage student transfers between preschool and child care.
Both programs should benefit the community as a whole, Gehring said.
“For the community, I think it’s going to help us stay viable,” she said. “I think we will see new families arrive because we will have the services to meet their needs.
“We have a great school system here, and now we will be able to start early with their children and provide them with a place.”
Gehring said she believed the model Plainville was building could be replicated in other Kansas communities. She and other local officials are working on a presentation to share with other interested parties.
“We’re very excited to get things done,” Gehring said. “This is a great opportunity for our families and our community. We’re really excited.”