What do you do when you live in a city that does not have enough Child Day Care Centers? You build one. That’s what a group of volunteers and donors did in Radford, Virginia.
In some countries childcare is government funded, but in the U.S. it’s largely a for profit business. And that often means that sparsely populated rural areas have a tough time attracting accredited national childcare chains to the community.
Agida Manizade says, “It’s much easier to go to an urban area and establish a childcare 5 miles away from another one and know it’s going to be filled just by sheer volume of the people that live there. In rural Virginia, like our area here, it’s much more difficult to do.”
That’s Agida Manizade, a math professor at Radford University and president of Radford Child Development, a non-profit, she and other volunteers from the Radford area formed in 2012. In a city where half the children live below the poverty line and 9 out of every ten had no available day care options, they knew they’d have to get creative.
“First, identifying all the partners and highlighting the strength of the community partners was one of the major things we did. So identifying people like Jeff Price and Mark Williams, who were willing to not charge us for the land the facility is standing on and help us with initial capital, because they had to put up, up front, the cost of the building, knowing they will only be able to get it back over decades basically.”
Local Developers Price Williams built the one point six million dollar, nearly 12-thousand sqft state of the art day care center. A no interest loan from the Radford University Foundation went to purchase the playground equipment, the toys and beds for 136 children, from infants to older kids in after school activities. And donations from local businesses, and community members helped entice the Rainbow Child Care Center, a national chain with more than 200 facilities around the country. Manizade believes that this combination, of a non-profit board and for profit day care provider, is something that can be replicated in other places facing similar childcare shortages.
“We believe the model is replicable and can be done in other places. Have we tried to do it in other places? Not yet. But it is possible to do.”
--- And necessary to do. That’s because the Radford Early Learning Center, which has been open since February has already filled about a third of its slots and expects to be at full capacity by fall.