WEST UNION — The proposed construction of a 40-student daycare center on North Fayette Valley School District property in Elgin appears to have the support of the Fayette County Board of Supervisors.
Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission representatives Diana Johnson and Rachelle Howe and pre-kindergarten through grade 8 Principal Micah Gearhart of the Valley Campus in Elgin met Monday with Supervisors Janell Bradley and Marty Stanbrough during the board’s regular Monday meeting. Supervisor Jeanine Tellin was absent from the presentation.
Upper Explorerland is assisting NFV with procuring a community development block grant. Ultimately, they are asking the county take on the role of fiscal agent for the grant, which would mean the county would receive the grant money and simply pass it along to the project.
Gearhart said the need for daycare is growing in the district, particularly with the pending retirements of providers in Clermont and Elgin.
“Right now we have people in our area driving down to Fayette for daycare,” Gearhart said.
He added that daycares in surrounding communities, such as Elkader and Postville are full.
“It’s really quite a challenge for people who are working in Clermont and Elgin to be able to work and get to the daycare,” he said. “That’s kind of our biggest challenge.”
A survey sent out in May by the Valley Preschool Board indicated that about 40 students from 6 weeks old to 3 years old will need childcare when the providers retire.
The Preschool Board decided to expand its services to those ages, but needed space to do it. They could not find a location in Elgin or Clermont to remodel for a daycare, Gearhard said, so they looked toward new construction, which would be less expensive that building an addition to the school.
“Last month the NFV School Board voted in favor of allowing us to build on school grounds,” Gearhart said.
The school district and Upper Explorerland are preparing to apply for a community development block grant, which is federal funding distributed by state government, to help construct the new daycare building on the Valley Campus at an estimated cost of $400,000 to $500,000,
Gearhart said they already have written applications for about $380,000 in grants — they’re waiting to see if they are awarded any — and plan to seek private donations, possibly through some sort of campaign.
The community development block grant applications are due date is Jan. 17.
“The main thing that we would need right now is a letter of support (from the supervisors),” Johnson said.
Bradley said could be done, but it will need to be approved by the board at a later meeting.
Howe told the supervisors this project has a certain urgency because daycare for the 40 children recognized in the survey is ending soon.
“They’re done, and then what?” she said. “Will people start moving out.”
By supplying his service, communities become more of a draw for residents, she said.
“There are daycare deserts all over, this is not atypical, and those in-home providers are getting to the age of retirement,” she said. “And people are driving a distance, but I do think that ...your school, your daycare, those are the core elements of a community that somebody wants that would be attracted to that area.”