WOODSTOCK — Gov. Ralph Northam announced earlier this month that New Market is to receive one of four $250,000 mixed-delivery preschool grants.
The town of New Market, acting as the administrator of the grant for the New Market Child Care Center, will receive the funds to pass along to the nonprofit center over the course of the next two years.
Before the center set up shop, there was no licensed child care facility in the town. The grant will help pay for large portions of tuition for 12 to 14 4-year-olds as well as provide funding for a teacher.
The approach the New Market Child Care Center took to applying for the grant was unique, Yvonne Frazier, chairman of the center, said. Since the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation began handing out the mixed-delivery grant in 2016, no local government has acted as the administrator of the grant. A number of United Way chapters, universities and school systems have received funding but a partnership with a town is a departure from the norm.
“The grant was really a lot about innovation. A lot about trying new things,” Frazier said. “It was clear those kinds of grants would get more points.”
Frazier’s instinct was correct. She said the portion of the grant that score the highest was the center’s decision to partner with the town.
Frazier told the Town Council members that the center offered solutions to problems the town has expressed interest in addressing but has not been established long enough to receive funds by itself.
For 25 years, Frazier has worked in and around Shenandoah County and said one of the biggest problems she saw was accessible and affordable child care. For years, Frazier said, New Market was the only major town in the county that did not have a licensed child care facility.
The relative lack of care, she said, also meant that the few licensed facilities were also expensive. Prices are still high for the center in New Market, Frazier said, but the mixed-delivery grant, along with other funding, is helping allay some of those costs.
Frazier said the grant will pay $100 a week for eligible 4-year-olds meaning their families will pay just $50 a week. More than half of the money for each year of the grant will go to subsidize tuition.
The center is up and running, Frazier said, but numbers are still low as many families are waiting for funding assistance to kick in.
Children who did not make it into their local 4-year-old programs will be at the top of the list for eligibility for funding, Frazier said. She said there is also some flexibility with the program to open up funding opportunities on a needs-based basis.
Frazier said parents should apply to their local programs first because referrals for tuition assistance will come through those programs.
This grant, Frazier said, will help the new center establish itself in the community and lend credibility to its effort as it looks for more partners.
“It’s limited in scope,” Frazier said about the grant, “but particularly for a new center, that it’s a two-year grant and over $60,000 in scholarship money for children, that’s big.”