Successful Community Partnerships Help Open New ABC Kids Preschool
First 5 Ventura County, the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme work together to bring early education opportunities to Oxnard
"Research shows there are too few licensed childcare and preschool spaces in Ventura County to meet demand," said Bruce Stenslie, EDC-VC CEO. "This loan was developed in partnership with First 5 Ventura County to help alleviate some of the strain childcare facilities undertake as they look for affordable capital essential to increasing the number of childcare slots in Ventura County. We're proud of what we and our partners have been able to contribute to this investment in our future."
Since 2010, the Community Investment Loan has created more than 318 new high-quality preschool spots, 107 of which are for the especially-scarce, high-value infant and toddler age group. In doing so, more than 52 full-time-equivalent jobs in early childhood education have been created. The loan program supports parents and employers by addressing the need for more childcare in Ventura County.
Early childhood education is known to be a significant driver in the local economy as it creates the foundation for a qualified workforce in the future, and it allows parents to work without the worry of quality childcare. Studies show that when social skills are combined at an early age with cognitive skills, they help create more capable and productive citizens.
Children who benefit the most from early education are the least likely to attend: children from low income families, Latino children and English Language Learners. In Ventura County, on average, only 58 percent of incoming kindergartners in low performing school districts have attended preschool. According to the Resource & Referral Network, 2015, 18 percent of our 0-5 year olds currently live in poverty. Out of those kids, only 1 in 2 have access to a subsidized child care space.
"By lending money to those that can use it to provide more early learning opportunities in our community in areas that need it most, we hope to increase the number of children who can become socially, emotionally and academically successful citizens," added Stenslie.
About 30 community leaders attended the grand opening and heard remarks from Petra Puls, executive director, First 5 Ventura County; Bruce Stenslie, CEO, EDC-VC; Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez; Preschool owner Alma Farrel; and Erin Antrim, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard/Port Hueneme.
"By establishing a partnership with EDC-VC, SBDC and First 5, I gained access to everything I needed to renovate and build out the space," said Farrel in regards to her first ABC Preschool that opened in Fillmore in 2010; the first preschool to open with help from the Community Investment Loan. The Oxnard location is her second preschool. "I know having them as a partner will build on our success and help to provide a much-needed resource to the community."
The Oxnard ABC Kids Preschool has spots for toddlers and 78 preschool-age children. The total amount of loans funded through the First 5 Community Investment Loan Fund is $1.2 million, which has been leveraged with an additional $500,000 in public and private sector loan capital.
EDC-VC is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as a business-to-
First 5 Ventura County envisions a future where all Ventura County children thrive in healthy, supported environments. First 5 Ventura County distributes more than $10 million each year to programs and services that support children's health, learning and families, including the 11 community based Neighborhoods for Learning (NfLs).