JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday new investments through Missouri Start Smart to expand access to quality early childhood education opportunities so that more Missouri children start kindergarten ready to succeed in school and beyond.
“Over the past seven years, we’ve made significant investments to give more Missouri families access to quality, affordable early childhood education,” Nixon said in a news release. “By ensuring children start school ready to learn and helping working parents move up the economic ladder, early childhood education is a smart investment with a big return.”
According to a release from the governor’s office, Nixon announced that, through the Missouri Start Smart initiative, the Missouri Department of Economic Development will authorize more than $2.9 million in competitive funding awards to early childhood education projects in Hayti, Senath and Sedalia.
In Sedalia, $999,505 will be awarded to the City of Sedalia to assist the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency construct a new 9,872 square-foot building on land donated by the city for the purpose of relocating the Sedalia Head Start program. The new facility will serve 115 children, meet ADA standards and border Hubbard Park.
MVCAA Executive Director Pam LaFrenz made a presentation to the Sedalia City Council during its Feb. 2 meeting regarding a proposed new facility for Head Start. The proposed building would serve the 100 children ages 3 to 5 that attend Head Start at the Sedalia Community Center at 314 S. Washington Ave.
“The Sedalia Community Center building was designed for older children,” Director of Child and Family Development Cindy Gabbert told the Democrat after the meeting. “The city has been wonderful, but we need something more suited for younger children.”
A layout for the building has been created by Robert Rollings Architects LLC, which includes a two-story building with four classrooms and an area for meal preparation. The building will be approximately 10,000 square feet between the two floors.
The plan also includes relocating the Family Resource Center from the corner of Kentucky Avenue and Fifth Street to the building.
LaFrenz told the Democrat this week the project won’t be completed for several years.
In Hayti, $999,924 will be awarded to the City of Hayti to assist the Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation, in cooperation with the National Head Start Association, construct a new Hayti Head Start/Early Head Start Center.
In Senath, $999,924 will be awarded the City of Senath to assist the Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation develop a Head Start/Early Head Start Center to serve an additional 40 children from low income families.
According to the release, in addition to funding through the Missouri Preschool Program, in 2014, the Governor launched Missouri Start Smart to support the development, expansion or improvement of high-quality early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs throughout the state. To date, $12.4 million in Missouri Start Smart awards have been announced for 17 projects across the state, which will serve up to 1,624 pre-school age children.