First Steps Approved for New Child Care Center

Albion, IN – The Albion Town Council has approved the submission of requests for proposals to conduct a fiscal analysis and architectural study, the first steps to building a new child care center in Albion.

The Town of Albion, Kendallville Day Care, and Noble Thrive by 5 have partnered to help address the lack of child care capacity in the community. The preliminary plan to construct a new building to house a second location of Kendallville Day Care would include using Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds from Albion, as well as enacting a robust grant funding strategy, public fundraising campaign, and a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant proposal.

This project is critical to the community because there is such a need for child care seats in Noble County, said Jenna Anderson, Noble Thrive by 5 Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator.

“Early Learning Indiana’s recent Closing the Gap study estimated that there are 2,240 children under the age of six who need care in Noble County,” said Anderson. We only have seats for a fraction of those, and wait lists at local child care providers keep growing.”

“As an Albion native for over 40 years, I have personally been a part of and witnessed the struggle, for children and families, of finding high-quality, licensed, childcare in our small – but growing – community,” said Tina Lee, Director of the Kendallville Day Care Center. “While Albion has always been a tight-knit community, blessed with loving homes and facilities to care for children, there just simply are not enough child care options for families to meet the workforce demand.”

Preliminary estimates for the project are at $2 million for capital costs. The funding strategy will include up to $1.32 million in grant dollars, plus additional money coming from a local fundraising campaign. TIF funds would fill in the gap between the amount raised and the total cost to build.

“TIF funds are meant to spur economic development or fund infrastructure construction within the TIF district that would not occur without the availability of the funds,” said Albion Town Manager Jacob Ihrie. “The construction of a daycare facility meets this mission. According to the Early Learning Policy Group, the child care industry has an economic impact of $99.3 billion through direct and indirect impacts.”

Once the fiscal analysis is in hand, Noble Thrive by 5 will begin applying for grants to support the project. The amount of funds raised will decrease the TIF responsibility of the town.

The lack of child care in Noble County not only affects families, but it also affects the economy. Employers have noted that a lack of child care has been a barrier to filling their open positions. Creating space in a new facility will provide care for up to 150 children, which is the approximate number of children on waiting lists at Noble County’s major providers. Those parents can then enter the workforce, bolstering our economy.

“Simply put, child care is economic development,” said Ihrie. “It gives parents the freedom to pursue careers when they otherwise couldn’t due to a lack of childcare options.”

Ihrie continued, “Through making investments in increasing child care options, we hope to signal to our employers that we want them here, we want their employees to have more reliable child care options, and we want more individuals to feel like Albion is or could be their home.”

Much thought went into approaching the Kendallville Day Care Center to expand into Albion.

“It’s important to build on an asset that is already in our community,” said Anderson. “Kendallville Day Care is a high-quality, licensed center that is on Paths to Quality, and provides early learning curriculum for its youngest children, even infants, to give them the best possible start in life.”

Kendallville Day Care supports low income families through acceptance of Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers and On My Way Pre-K, which provides free high quality preschool opportunities to qualified families.

“All children deserve a location where they can feel safe, valued, equal, and that their basic human needs will be met by loving, compassionate, and qualified caregivers,” said Lee. “I’m proud to be part of the team bringing more child care options to my hometown!”

Expanding the Kendallville Day Care is the first step in addressing the issues of capacity, quality and affordability of child care and early learning in Noble County. It will provide more choices for families, as well as support existing child care facilities by the opportunities this project will bring, including new partnerships with employers.

“This is innovative,” said Ihrie. “This is something that, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been pursued in the State of Indiana. This is an opportunity to show that rural counties can innovate. We can defy the odds. As I round out my first year as Albion’s Town Manager, I have been astounded by our community’s resilience, and I am hopeful that we can continue contributing to this resilience through our innovation, determination, and resolve.”