Child center a win

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We were going to label the announcement that Riverland Community College will host a large new childhood center as a “win-win.” But on reflection, it seems that the project will go beyond that: A multiple-win situation, so to speak.

The $3 million childhood center will convert 17,000 square feet of the Austin campus into a facility to serve as many as 400 children (half of them part-time) who are younger than age 5. The win for parents who need childcare services is obvious, as is the win for education in general, because the new center will do more than provide children a place to be — it will also actively prepare them for the start of K-12 education. Anything that helps students get a fast start in kindergarten and early elementary grades will mean an improved education experience.

The new center is also a win for the entire Austin community because the availability of childcare is often a limiting factor for the workforce. Many parents are constrained from seeking or holding jobs because they can’t readily find high-quality childcare. Existing providers are often fully scheduled and it isn’t always easy for parents to connect with them. Indeed, access to childcare ranks as one of Austin’s top needs.

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The list of “wins” could go on — the possibility of future early childhood education teachers getting direct experience with children through a Riverland program, for example — but the point is clear. This week’s announcement of a new childhood center at Riverland is good news for Austin.