Thursday, July 03, 2014
GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College’s quest to secure an on-campus child care center received legislative backing on Thursday, with a proposed $9.5 million allocation from the state.
State Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said the Senate’s capital bond bill includes the child care amendment. It will now go to a conference committee, where state Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, said he intends to fight for its approval.
The money would allow GCC, the only community college in the state without a child care center, to build a 15,000-square-foot facility in one of the college’s parking lots.
The college plans to partner with Community Action, which would run the child care center, offering the federally subsidized Head Start program for low-income families. It could serve at least 60 children and would likely open within the next two years.
“The need for a child care center on GCC’s campus to provide stable, quality care is clear,” wrote GCC President Robert Pura after hearing the news. The center would not only provide early education and care for families who need it, he said, but also serve as a “lab school” for GCC education students to do field work.
“This would be great for the college, and great for the community,” said Clare Higgins, executive director of Community Action and a trustee of the college. “This would be a facility built for young children that would help them grow and thrive.”
Construction on the GCC campus, coupled with lack of funding, forced the college to close its child care center in 1999 and it was never reopened.
College officials have been planning the project for some time, but the details were not firmed up when the House passed its capital bond bill version earlier this spring.
Now the House and Senate will meet in conference committee to compare the two versions of the bill, and will need to act on it before the legislative session ends July 31.
Kulik said that the entire Franklin County delegation will support the child care center’s allocation. “It is very seriously needed and I’m going to be advocating for it very strongly,” he said.
Rosenberg said that the lack of quality child care is a major obstacle to lower-income families searching for a job or wanting to further their education.
“I firmly believe this child care center will play a significant role in helping to break the cycle of poverty for many Franklin County families,” he added.