United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Morgan was joined by state legislators, current Danbury childcare providers and community members at the Danbury Fair Mall Center Court on April 19 to announce the launch of Cora’s Kids, a program to invest $1 million over the next 3-5 years to support new family childcare centers in Danbury.
Amidst the many childcare challenges facing the city, there are solutions being advanced by collaborative work between various city agencies and organizations. Cora’s Kids, United Way’s $1 million investment in early education and small businesses, is one of them.
“Cora’s Kids is a UWWC initiative aimed at increasing the capacity of affordable, quality infant and toddler family childcare home spots in Danbury, while also creating jobs,” explained Megan Chrysler, Coordinator for Danbury’s Promise for Children Partnership, an initiative supported by UWWC to bring together parents, educators, healthcare providers, family support agencies, businesses, faith communities and other community resources to ensure the health and school-readiness of Danbury’s children.
“We will actively recruit, train and support new family childcare homes in Danbury. We will also build a system of support and ongoing training for currently licensed providers. The Cora’s Kids program will help providers navigate the licensure process, subsidize start-up costs by providing materials for the centers and develop a network of ongoing support through professional development and safety trainings. In return for these services, providers will be asked to keep their weekly tuition rates within a specified range to ensure affordability for many families. The long-term goal is to support healthy development to ensure school readiness of all children and to create new jobs and support families who need affordable childcare to retain employment,” explained Chrysler.
According to Elizabeth Quinonez, Danbury’s Promise for Children Partnership Community Engagement Coordinator, UWWC will be working in collaboration with All Our Kin, a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization that trains, supports and sustains community childcare providers to hire a new person who will be in charge of the Cora’s Kids licensing process. “All Our Kin will be hiring a bilingual, English and Spanish, Family Childcare Tool Kit Licensing Coordinator, and training will be provided,” she said.
With childcare being one of the largest expenses for families with preschool-aged children, accounting for more than 25 percent of a household budget on average, and the reason why some parents might turn to unregulated or unlicensed childcare providers, Cora’s Kids comes as a breath of fresh hair for hard-working families.
Cora’s Kids will also support the goals of the Danbury Works collaborative, which was awarded a $450,000 grant from the Boston Federal Reserve’s Working Cities Challenge, as well as the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 Champion Cities Challenge. Through Cora’s Kids, UWWC funding will complement these programs.
“United Way’s investment in childcare, particularly focused on infants and toddlers, will not only increase the number of safe childcare centers for our city’s families, but provide an economic benefit to the city by growing the number of small business operators,” said Cindy Merkle, President and CEO of Union Savings Bank and UWWC Board Chair.
UWWC’s goal is to create hundreds of new childcare slots and dozens of new businesses, allowing families to continue to work and live in financially stable homes in Danbury. For that, they will be recruiting and licensing new family childcare businesses and supporting current providers who are facing closure due to low enrollment because families can’t afford the care.
For more information about United Way of Western Connecticut, please visit: www.uwwesternct.org. Those interested in becoming a family childcare provider can contact the organization by calling its main line at 203-792-5330.