Charity Helps Coast Child Care Center Expand - - The News for South Mississippi

Charity Helps Coast Child Care Center Expand

A child care program for low income families is expanding to keep up with the growing demand created by Hurricane Katrina. The director of the Hancock County Human Resources Center says 120 working parents are on its waiting list -- largely because many day care providers haven't reopened. However, the center's 50 slots are already filled. Now a construction project could bring relief.

Air condition installer Todd Claverie and his wife are working parents. After several baby sitters and six weeks on a waiting list, he says they finally got their 3-year-old into day care. T

"It's been hard," said Claverie. "There's been no vacancies. We've been trying from Jackson county to Harrison County. "

The new Child Development Center in Hancock County going up on Highway 603 could help coast families who are still struggling to find child care.

"It has been very tough on parents," said Lora Mederos, director of the Hancock County Human Resources Agency. "We have parents who literally are having to move out of the area. Parents who call us crying day to day."

Pennsylvania-based Bucks- Mont Katrina Relief Project is paying for the $1.2 million facility and providing several dozen volunteers to help with the construction.

"There were plans in the works prior to the hurricane but with all the devastation here in Hancock County this definitely would have been a back burner project had it not been for the Pennsylvania folks stepping up to the plate and hitting this home run for our kids," said Mederos.

When the center opens in January, it will accommodate up to 124 children, ranging from infants to five year olds. That's 74 more slots than the current facility.

"I just find myself going off into a day dream thinking about all the beautiful things that are going to happen here and how beautiful the rooms are going to be," said Mederos. "The design for the interior is one of a kind. The playgrounds are being donated too with probably $70,000 to $80,000 dollars worth of playground equipment for the children. I do a lot of pinching to make sure this is real and not some great big awesome dream."

Officials say Hancock County donated the land to build the new child care center and provided the site work.

by Danielle Thomas 

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