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Business and Economy

Nevada’s first child care resource center is open in Las Vegas

Governor Steve Sisolak and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto look on from chairs at the front of a room as child care provider Anitra Lott speaks at a podium during a grand opening event.
Lucretia Cunningham
/
KUNR Public Radio
Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto listen as child care provider Anitra Lott speaks during a grand opening event for the Nevada Strong Start Child Care Services Center on Feb. 22, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nev.

A hub to provide child care resources has opened its first site in Las Vegas. One other location is expected to open in Reno later this year.

The Nevada Strong Start Child Care Services Center is the first of its kind in the state, where over 70% of the population lives in what the Center for American Progress calls a “child care desert.”

The goal is to streamline resources, making it simpler for child care providers to open their doors to children in their communities.

Anitra Lott opened Kingdom’s Daycare in Las Vegas at the height of the pandemic in 2020. At that time, she spent hours making phone calls to different agencies just trying to figure out what she needed to obtain licensure. This hub brings those agencies together in one office to help with every step of the process, even seemingly small tasks.

A young child plays on a wooden house inside a colorful playroom equipped with a bookshelf and ocean-themed rug.
Lucretia Cunningham
/
KUNR Public Radio
A young child plays inside the playroom at the Nevada Strong Start Child Care Services Center on Feb. 22, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nev. The playroom allows providers to bring the children they care for with them when they visit the center.

“Take, for instance, laminations,” she said. “You’d have to buy a laminating machine, and we didn’t have money for things like that. When we get to the part where we want to open a building, they help us fill out applications. It’s a lot!”

The laminating machine and computers are a part of the “lending library” set inside the coworking space. And, with the in-house playroom, providers don’t have to worry about a substitute when they come to visit during the workday.

The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services is funding the center with COVID-19 relief grants and through the American Rescue Plan. Marty Elquist is a director with a nonprofit called The Children’s Cabinet and explains the significance of funding this public-private collaboration.

“COVID has not been easy on any of us,” Elquist explained. “But especially hard on those with young children who are trying to make ends meet. Also, especially hard on our child care workforce who has operated on a shoe-string budget before COVID, only to find themselves with increased operating expenses, regulations [and] decreased enrollment.”

Agencies like the Las Vegas Urban League assist child care centers to become subsidized, and Wonderschool provides business tools to help drive enrollment. Both have offices in the shared-services model.

One other Child Care Services Center is expected to open in Reno later this year.

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