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Joplin City Council to vote on request for more early childhood - KOAM TV 7

Joplin City Council to vote on request for more early childhood care funding

Updated:
Tonight the Joplin City Council will vote on the filing of a request for more federal funds to go towards the early childhood programs at Joplin Schools.

If approved, the district could receive $5 million to fund construction of an entirely new early childhood center.

Lisa Orem, coordinator of federal programs at Joplin Schools, says the district's current early child care facility, located in FEMA classrooms, does not meet enrollment demands.

"We've added several more classrooms in the last few years, and we still can't meet the need," Orem said.

That's why the district is raising funds to construct a new, permanent center located near Irving Elementary.

"There will be up to 600 students," Orem said.  "Some children will just be half a day, so they'll either come in the morning or the afternoon."

The proposed $5 million for early child care funding would be taken out of the city's $113 million Community Development Block Grant, which officials say would be a valuable investment.

"This will assure daycare opportunities, and opportunities for special needs children, that are not being provided for now," said Patty Heagel, CDBG project manager for the City of Joplin.

Heagel says the $5 million for early childhood programs is not the only thing on the city's action plan.

The request also includes an additional $5 million for other projects.

"It's about a $10 million request, for more infrastructure work and to help another social service agency," Heagel said.

The construction cost for the new childhood center is estimated to be around $14 million.

Officials say the CDBG funding would definitely help make a dent in that amount.

"We're more than happy to help the school district make this happen," Heagel said.

"We don't want to turn any children a way," Orem said. "We want to make sure we have a facility that will meet the needs for the community for many years to come."

After the funding request is filed, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development will notify the city within 45 days as to whether it has been approved.
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