September 28, 2020, PROVIDENCE, RI – Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Rhode Island today joined Mayor Jorge O. Elorza in announcing the recipients of grants totaling $600,000 to improve early learning childcare facilities. More than 1,100 childcare and early learning seats will be impacted through this fund which is awarding grants to 15 programs within the city.
“We know the tremendous impact that access to early education opportunities has on our kid’s long-term success,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Our facilities play a critical role in that access by creating the right environment for learning to take place and for students to succeed. This grant is an important step in ensuring that even our youngest residents have the opportunity thrive in spaces that support and inspire them.”
The grant program was introduced in July after LISC was awarded a request for proposals from the with the City, aligned with Mayor’s Elorza’s commitment to creating cradle-to-career supports for Providence youth. The program prioritized applications that address major health and safety concerns, provide funding for physical updates to enable programs to obtain or advance state licensure, and that fund expansion plans for existing sites. In addition, funds were set aside to enable providers to help create comprehensive indoor and outdoor facility development plans, which require an architect or other qualified design professional to conduct feasibility assessments in compliance with regulations.
“We are incredibly grateful to the City for using this level of funding to improve childcare facilities,” said Jeanne Cola, Executive Director of LISC Rhode Island. “The need is tremendous, and this is an important step to address widespread issues.”
“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with both LISC and the City of Providence to upgrade our centers through the City of Providence Early Learning Facilities Improvement Grants,” said David Caprio, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Friend. “The quality improvements made possible by this partnership is an investment in the health and well-being of our most vulnerable children.”
In 2014, the Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund at LISC Rhode Island, in partnership with the RI Department of Education, conducted a facilities need assessment that detailed the overall condition of RI’s early learning facilities with particular focus on issues that could be a barrier to meeting or maintaining licensing standards. That report funded through a Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education, identified 69% of centers assessed experienced issues related to their overall building and site condition at the time of inspection. More than 60% of buildings that housed early learning classrooms are considered in “poor” condition, and more than 90% of outdoor play spaces posed significant safety concerns. The assessment noted that 63% of the centers identified with building condition issues each serve more than 90% DHS-subsidized children, while only 3% of these centers have no DHS children.
Last year, the team conducted a follow up to that initial study. This facilities assessment noted that 80% of early learning programs reported having made physical space improvements since the 2014 assessment, however few meaningful changes to the overall condition of Rhode Island’s early learning spaces were noted during site visits. The assessment also noted that 77% of the programs report having a wait list, 64% of programs report being fully enrolled and most openings for centers with space available are only for children in the 3-5 age group.
“Facilities play such a key role in a child’s life and learning,” said Erin Cox, architect and LISC program officer for the child care practice area. “A well designed and safe space has been shown to positively impact both learning outcomes and behavior – two key components of a program’s quality. We are thrilled to be able to support these centers with critical funds necessary to make these improvements.”
Grants totaling $600,000 were awarded to the following programs:
• Beautiful Beginnings – $91,400 to provide partial funding to capital improvements to roof.
• Smith Hill Early Learning Center – $9,500 to repair drainage issue.
• Carter Street – $ 82,321 for improvements to student bathrooms.
• Dorcas International – $66,000 for capital improvements to expand infant and toddler spaces, create a food prep area, install a diaper change area, and modify existing playground access.
• Friendship Center – $70,331 for capital improvements to create and update bathrooms.
• Hartford Avenue Center – $27,720 for bathroom installation in the childcare room.
• McAuley Village Center – $34,720 for creation of permanent sinks in class areas and bathroom updates.
• Dr. Day Care – $40,000 to fund interior renovation and expansion to include an additional toddler classroom.
• Emma’s Home Day Care – $12,800 to update fencing system.
• Federal Hill House – $40,000 to fund expansion of this facility.
• Genesis Center – $30,208 for plumbing improvements including 7 new toilets, 13 faucets and repairing leaking heating unit.
• Meeting Street – $30,000 to fund architectural fees needed to complete COVID-informed design revisions for new 30,000 sq. ft. early childhood development center.
• Over the Rainbow – $30,000 to fund planning for new site compliance which will include 2 new classrooms each for infant, toddler, pre-school, and pre-k.
• Roger Williams Day Care Center – $15,000 planning grant to improve safety and function of existing spaces and move forward with construction upgrades to existing space.
• West End Community Center – $20,000 for capital improvements to facility entries.
About Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) – LISC Rhode Island is part of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit that equips communities with the capital, program strategy and know-how to become places where people can thrive. Our strategies – investing in real estate, increasing family income & wealth, stimulating economic development, improving access to quality education, and supporting healthy environments and lifestyles – work together to improve the health and well-being of our neighbors. Since 1991, LISC Rhode Island has invested $437 million in neighborhoods across our state, helping to create more than 8,835 affordable homes and support the development of more than 2.5 million square feet of commercial, childcare, educational, and community space. For more information, visit www.rilisc.org.