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Parent/Child Center to receive new buses, renovations

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County Parent/Child Center’s recent affiliation with the Early Head Start program has yielded substantial federal funds for the nonprofit center to purchase two new buses and complete some renovations to its Monroe Street headquarters in Middlebury.
The U.S. government’s Early Head Start program provides childcare and other assistance to low-income families of children from birth to age three, as well as pregnant women. Its mission includes “enhancing the development of infants and toddlers while strengthening families,” according to Head Start literature.
“It’s about families trying to get their kids off to the best start possible,” said Parent/Child Center Co-director Donna Bailey.
Centers that collaborate with Early Head Start also receive training, toys, equipment and other child development amenities, Bailey noted.
It was during 2014 that Early Head Start officials approached the Parent/Child Center seeking a possible affiliation. Created in 1980, the center has established itself as a leader in helping young families learn to care for their children and get the training they need to run successful households. The center has always worked with children from birth to age three, so a pairing with Early Head Start made perfect sense, according to Bailey. Virtually all of the center’s clients qualify for Head Start services, she added.
“We can work together to get more resources to the neediest children,” Bailey said.
Last year, Early Head Start representatives visited the center to check out its facilities. They recommended some physical changes, including a more open layout of childcare space, as well as some drainage work and new features at the outdoor playground. Best of all, Early Head Start helped the center win $215,000 for the recommended upgrades, as well as a combined total of almost $160,000 to purchase two buses and train drivers to shuttle parents, children and staff to programs, training sessions and other appointments.
The funds will also provide for a new boiler and radiant heat flooring at the center, Bailey noted.
If all proceeds according to plan, the work will be started and completed this summer, according to Bailey. The interior renovations will largely involve tearing down some walls and installing some new cabinetry, officials said.
Bailey is pleased with how center volunteers and local contractors have helped set the stage for the work to come.
“It feels like a community project,” Bailey said.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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