HumanKind’s new child care center set to open next year
By Rachael Smith email@example.com December 16, 2021
“HumanKind is striving to create a space in which children can thrive early in life, and what is unique about HumanKind Early Head Start is it’s not only about the children but providing wraparound support for the entire family,” Ashley Graham, Director of Family & Children’s Services.
A new early childhood center is closer to becoming a reality after Liberty University donated $75,000 to HumanKind this month, becoming the largest local donor of the organization’s newly established Early Head Start Program.
Early Head Start is a free program that promotes physical, cognitive, social and emotional developments for infants and toddlers age 3 and younger.
The funds will go toward a new facility under construction on Fenwick Drive.
HumanKind has been serving families in need from the Lynchburg community through care, counseling and education for more than 100 years. Earlier this year, the organization launched the Early Head Start Program in response to a lack of affordable, accessible child care options in the Lynchburg area, a problem that prevents many low-income families from moving out of poverty and into the workforce.
Bob Dendy, president and CEO of HumanKind, said the organization knows about the importance of having children ready for preschool and kindergarten, so it’s been humbling and exciting to be in a position to bring this facility to the region.
“Families have let us know that they are desperate to have reliable and high-quality child care and early childhood education,” Dendy said. “So we’re thrilled that Liberty decided to make an investment there and we look forward to a long-term partnership with them and how to make that center one of the best in the commonwealth and across the country.”
HumanKind has been working on a capital campaign for at least a year to pay for such an extensive renovation. Dendy said HumanKind’s initial capital requirement was almost $1.8 million and a significant portion of that can come from the federal government in a match.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with Liberty University on this project,” Graham said. “They are our largest local donor and this gets us very close to reaching our goal and it shows the local investment in this program.”
“It cannot only be a federally funded program; it has to be something that our local community buys into literally and figuratively,” she said. “Because the community’s children are all of our children.”
Liberty University President Jerry Prevo said in a news release the donation is one of the ways the university cares for its neighbors and community.
“I believe children are a blessing from the Lord,” Prevo said in the release. “Lynchburg parents and guardians need to be confident that their children are well cared for while at work. This child care program can help facilitate many of those needs.”
Liberty has partnered with HumanKind for years, including nearly 300 students volunteering through the school’s LU Service program and more than 160 students serving in The Motherhood Collective Program as interns, volunteer leadership team members, child care providers and event staff.
Out of 154 HumanKind employees, 41 are Liberty alumni, the release said.
“Having access to affordable child care is crucial to the financial wellness of low-income families,” said Shon Muldrow, LU’s executive vice president of inclusion, diversity, and equity. “Liberty University’s contribution to HumanKind helps local families invest in their future.”
Graham said HumanKind is striving to create a space in which children can thrive early in life, and what is unique about Early Head Start is it’s not only about the children but providing wraparound support for the entire family.
“So the parents will also have their own family support person just as their children have their own teacher to talk to the family members about their strengths, their challenges, their goals and they can wrap around them to support them in achieving their goals and creating the futures that they want for their children,” she said.
The Early Head Start program is similar to the Head Start program, which has been in the area for decades. But Early Head Start serves children age 0 to 3, and Head Start can serve children age 3 and older until children go to kindergarten.
“This is the first time that we can provide free full-day year-round child care primarily for families working their way out of poverty through this program,” Graham said.
For more information about HumanKind’s Early Head Start program, please visit HERE.