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LIFE CENTER PROJECT

An Exciting Opportunity For Clay County

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Grow Clay County is thrilled to announce that our community has been awarded a $3.64 million dollar grant for the construction of a brand new Multi-Generational Life Center! This incredible space is set to become the heart of our community, catering to the diverse needs of residents young and old.

From bridging child care gaps to offering educational programs, mental health services, and safe spaces for youth and seniors, the project aims to greatly enhance our community's overall well-being.

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Highlights

$3.6M

Grant Awarded to Grow Clay County to construct a Life Center serving citizens from birth to 100+.

$850K

Additional grants and cash and in-kind donations awarded, as well as the land donated.

2.5

Years working to solve the shortage in Clay County with provider incentives, summits and research

48

New child care slots, created with new facility dependent on child ratios.

34

USD 379 teachers eligible to retire in less than five years, likely replaced by young teachers.

ZERO

Child Care Centers currently in Clay County, with 11-20 children per one child care opening.

Building Location & Hours of Operation

The location of the Multi-Generational Life Center is nestled near the Middle School, on the far  northwest corner of the property, to avoid any impact on school traffic. This is the perfect place for several reasons:

  • The Land was donated (8 Acres), leaving more funds for construction.

  • Central and accessible hub for the community

  • Within walking distance from the middle and high school

  • Convenient drop-off point for parents with child care and school-aged children

  • Accessible from Highway 24 - easy entry for those traveling by car

  • Working with Clay County Public Transit to provide a dedicated route to the Life Center

  • Part of the comprehensive connective pedestrian trail Clay Center is working to develop

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Various tenants may have alternate hours of operation based on their needs and requirements:

  • The Child Care Center will tentatively be open Monday-Friday, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.

  • The Youth Lounge will tentatively be open Monday-Friday, 3:30 pm to 8:30 pm and Saturday 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

  • The Senior Center will tentatively be open Monday-Friday, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

  • Mental health services will tentatively be available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Extended hours may be considered for community events, rental opportunities, workforce training, and other health services as needs arise.

Building Location & Hours of Operation
Community Center

Community Center

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A Large Multi-Purpose Gathering Space will feature:

  • Versatile, flexible seating for events, programs, and gatherings

  • A gym for activities

  • Training rooms with state-of-the-art technology

  • Health exam rooms designed for privacy and comfort

  • A commercial kitchen for meal preparation for the community, including Meals on Wheels

Child Care Center

Child Care Center

The new Community Center will feature a state-of-the-art Child Care Center, providing a safe and nurturing environment for our little ones to learn and grow. This has long been a need in our community, as highlighted in several focus groups, surveys and feasibility studies across all demographics.

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Youth Lounge

Youth Lounge

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A dedicated Youth Lounge will offer a dynamic and modern space with games and activities for our teenagers to connect, engage, and explore various activities, fostering a sense of community and belonging.

Teens will also have access to a safe space where they can access additional mental health services.

Senior Center

Senior Center

A dedicated Senior Center is planned, providing a welcoming hub for socializing, recreation, and support services.

 

The Senior Center will exude comfort with cozy seating areas, reading nooks, and spaces for leisure activities. Features could include a piano and outdoor greenhouse for gardening activities. The commercial kitchen will also be used for the Meals on Wheels program for Seniors.

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The Data-Driven Need For Child Care In Our Community

A quality child care center has long been a need in our community, as highlighted in several focus groups, surveys and feasibility studies across all demographics hosted by committees representing the community center, child care in our county, the need for youth programs and Grow Clay County. Below is a re-cap of those engagements and findings.

Child Care Aware of Kansas gathers and disseminates data, research, and best practices from experts in the field so that parents, providers, and decision-makers are equipped with ideas and solutions for high-quality early care and education. They keep a report of child care needs in our county, which can be viewed here - just click on Clay County to view the real-time report.

In 2021, Grow Clay County held its strategic planning session with the International Economic Development Council. Several community members voiced their needs for the community and how Grow Clay County could help with those needs. Child care was identified as a barrier to growth and economic vitality. Grow Clay County also issued various surveys to the community, child care providers, and businesses which highlighted the struggle families have with finding child care and the issues companies face with employees who lack adequate child care. Read the full report here.

After the Clay County Child Care Center closed, Grow Clay County secured $22,500 to provide assistance to both existing providers and new providers. We issued 11 grants total, nine to existing providers and two to new providers. 

In 2022, USD 379 hosted a community planning meeting where child care was identified as a great need in our community, and that the school district should work with other community partners to find solutions. Many stakeholders raised "access to child care services" as a challenge faced by both workers and their employers. Due to the closure of child care facilities in the community, additional burdens have been placed on workers with young children, while employers face challenges with talent attraction and retention due to this strain on the workforce. 

In the spring of 2023, Grow Clay County conducted surveys that were sent to the general public, child care providers and business owners to further assess the need for child care in our county. Those findings are as follows:

  • There are an estimated 11-20 children needing child care for every one child care opening.

  • 58% of parents struggle with lack of child care due to their provider being closed.

  • 67% of parents are in need of drop-in or part-time care.

  • 23% of employers lost or could not retain employees due to lack of child care.

  • 50% of employers reported employee absences due to lack of child care.

  • 57% of employers expressed interest in purchasing child care slots to offer to employees as a benefit or attraction incentive.

In February 2024, we hosted a Child Care Summit on February 24th for those looking to start a daycare business and existing providers who need continuing education credits with free food, child care and a chance to win $250 for their daycare. We hosted KDHE, representatives from the food program, Child Care Aware, and K-State. Eight existing providers signed up as well as two potential new providers .

Data-Driven Need for Child Care
Schools, Child Care and Return on Investment

Schools, Child Care and Return on Investment

The research is clear: High-quality child care programs are valuable strategic investments because they have a high return on investment (ROI). If done correctly, we spend less on children in the future when they receive quality child care from birth to school-age years.

Conservative estimates pin early childhood education programs maintaining between a 4X-9X return on investment per dollar, when considering the “extended-dynasty benefits,” which include the spillover benefits to siblings, and even their own children, economists have found each dollar invested to generate upward of 14X in return. 

Young children who have access to high-quality and developmentally appropriate child care and preschool programs are proven to have increased high school graduation and college attendance rates, and fewer special education placements as compared with peers who did not participate.

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FAQ Section

You've Got Questions, We've Got Answers!

We're here to help answer any questions you might have. All questions we have received have been categorized by type and are listed below. Quickly jump to any FAQ topic using the quick links below.

General Building FAQs

  • Who will build the facility?

    • The project will be bid out as required by the City's procurement policies. No Construction contracts have been made.
       

  • Who will the owner of the building be? 

    • The City of Clay Center.
       

  • Who will run/staff the building?

    • The City of Clay Center’s Parks & Rec Superintendent will be responsible for staffing the facility, overseeing common area maintenance, and developing diverse programming to cater to citizens of all ages. The City Clerk will be responsible for maintaining accurate records related to the Life Center's operations, ensuring transparency and compliance with regulatory requirements.
       

  • Who pays for the maintenance, utilities, taxes, etc.?

    • The City will pay for maintenance and utilities with funds from partner organizations. The city is exempt from property taxes.
       

  • Why the rush?

    • We are required to occupy the building by September of 2025. We also have several other grants that we have been sitting on that are required to be spent before the end of 2024. We have worked hard to secure non-local tax dollars to build an extraordinary facility that we don't have. If we are required to return the funds, it could make us ineligible for funding in the future.
       

  • What is being done about the traffic at the middle school?

    • The facility will be located near the middle school, designs have taken great caution to avoid or minimize interruption to middle school traffic.
       

  • Will the school eventually take it over if it is located next to the middle school?

    • No, the City of Clay Center will own and operate the building.

FAQ: General
FAQ: Funding & Taxes

FAQ: Funding & Taxes

  • Where does this grant funding come from?

    • The Children's Cabinet and Trust fund applied for a grant from the US Treasury to provide more community facilities to solve issues exacerbated by COVID. These are federal and state tax dollars with a supplement from the Patterson Family Foundation. It is great to see our federal tax dollars coming back to our community.
       

  • What is required of this grant?

    • The required components of the grant are to provide educational and work-enabling services, health or mental health services, child care, and access to free internet for a minimum of five years.

  • How was the land purchased?

    • 8 Acres of land was donated, valued at $165,000.
       

  • Will the $3.64 million cover the cost of construction?

    • Yes, with the additional $850,000 in matching dollars secured.
       

  • Is there a chance any burden falls on taxpayers?

    • No additional tax revenue will be used to build and operate the facility. 
       

  • What happens if the grant is not enough to cover construction?

    • Grow Clay County worked hard to provide an accurate estimate. The collaboration and community support received assures this project will be completed. View the comprehensive sustainability and business plan here.
       

  • How will all non-essential equipment and furnishings be paid for?

    • There will still be fundraising to do. The grant only covers basic furnishings, so we will continue to fundraise for sports equipment, a pool table, couches and other “nice to have” furnishings.
       

  • Where does the additional $800,000+ in funding support come from?

    • Here’s a breakdown of each fund source and where it comes from.

Donors
Purpose
Status
Form
Amount
Child Care Aware of Kansas
Child Care Playground Fencing/Architectural Fees
Secured
Cash
$43,000
Patterson Family Foundation thru CCAKS
Child Care Furniture, Equipment, Supplies
Secured
Cash
$37,750
Patterson Family Foundation
Child Care Construction, Equipment and Operations
Secured
Cash
$175,000
Office of Rural Prosperity
Child Care Center Construction
Secured
Cash
$30,000
CSP Tax Credits, DOC
Child Care Center Construction
Secured
Cash
$143,000
CPS Tax Credits, DOC
Child Care Center Construction (We are still selling tax Credits until November 2024)
Secured
Cash
$142,000
Clay County Senior Task Force
Construction/Commercial Kitchen Equipment
Secured
Cash
$40,000
Donor
Facility Construction Costs
Secured
Cash
$43,000
Clay Center Community Foundation
Child Care Center
Secured
Cash
$5,000
Patterson Family Foundation/Grow CC
Workforce Development Programming Grant
Secured
Cash
$20,000
Twin Valley
Installation of Broadband and service for 5 Years
Confirmed
In-Kind
$10,000
Grow Clay County
Grant Administration and Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation
Secured
In-Kind
$25,000
City of Clay Center
Permitting/Fees/ First Year Salaries/Supplies
Confirmed
Cash/In-Kind
$65,000
Community
Equipment and Furnishings Donated
Pending
In-Kind
$50,000
CURRENT TOTAL
$852,750

FAQ: Child Care Center

  • How does the Child Care Center benefit the school? Why should board members support it?

    • First and foremost, the center can be used as a workforce attraction tool. The school is the largest employer in the county, and priority would be given to teachers in need of child care. This benefits the community, as parents who elect to send their children to the Child Care Center will open up spots from in-home providers currently caring for those children. Additionally, USD 379 has been running a successful preschool program for years, and they have the support services to catch delays and prepare kids as they enter Kindergarten. The district already runs and operates four Early Childhood Learning Centers at Lincoln Elementary School. The “full day” day room runs from 7:30-5:30 M-F. USD 379 has the experience, expertise and infrastructure in place.
       

  • Can we build the rest of the facility and forego the child care center?

    • No. Child care is a required component of the grant, without a child care center, there is no community center.
       

  • Why did the other child care center close? If it was staffing, how would there not be the same issue in this facility?

    • The other center was not able to maintain a viable workforce due to low wages and lack of benefits. USD 379 is able to offer higher wages and robust benefits. They can also implement an Early Education CTE pathway, and the center could be used as a teaching lab.
       

  • Will the child care center only serve low-income families?

    • No. This funding stream does not require the facility to serve families based on income level. 
       

  • What is the estimated capacity of children? 

    • 40-48 new child care slots would be created with the new facility, dependent on child age ratios.
       

  • Is the Child Care Center available to anyone or limited to a certain group of people like school employees or people with State insurance? 

    • Priority would be given to district employees. Remaining slots would be open to the entire community regardless of income or qualifications. This still benefits our entire community, as the 40-48 new slots created will create openings in other in-home daycares.
       

  • What district funds would be used to operate the Child Care Center?

    • The child care center would not use any additional school district funds, as the Patterson Family Foundation has provided $100,000 to supplement operating the child care facility. Payroll and other expenses will be covered by weekly fees.
       

  • What happens when the grant funds to support the Child Care Center run out?

    • According to calculations, the $100,000 operating funds from the Patterson Family Foundation would supplement a two-room child care facility for 5-10 years, run by USD 379. Partnering with HeadStart to open one room will help with sustainability through cost sharing strategies. The grant stipulates that we must maintain the required components for at least five years. If it doesn't work after that, it could be converted to other community-related services. 
       

  • Won’t the child care facility put other daycare providers out of business?

    • No. A majority of the providers are full, and many have waiting lists. Several providers are likely to retire in the next five years. Two providers retired in 2023, while others significantly reduced the number of children they are willing to take.
       

  • Will the Child Care facility replace Lincoln Preschool?

    • No, the purpose of the facility is to add more child care slots in our community.
       

  • Would the Child Care Center operate year-round full-time, or follow school hours and breaks?

    • Staffing and schedules could be consolidated during school breaks, but child care would be available year-round.
       

  • Will there be drop-in care available?

    • Programming could be considered in the future for the possibility of drop-in care. 
       

  • Is a privately-run daycare an option?

    • The primary intentions of the child care center were based on serving USD 379 staff with quality child care, and as a retention tool for the district. That said, if we considered a private option, each room would need its own playground, restrooms, etc., so the likelihood of the grant funding facilitating the construction cost in this example is unlikely.​

FAQ: Child Care Center

FAQ: Youth Lounge

  • How will this facility benefit all USD 379 students?

    • This will provide a safe space for those who might not be involved in extracurricular activities the opportunity to engage in other interests. All of the students and families would have access to the gym. 

    • The school could also use the facility for practices, meetings, community gatherings, etc. 

    • Teenagers will have access to a safe space where they can access additional mental health services including but not limited to anxiety, difficulty coping with stress, unhealthy social media use, and difficulty managing emotions.

FAQ: Youth Lounge

Have More Questions?

We're happy to answer them! Simply send an email or use any of the contact methods on our contact us page. We look forward to hearing from you!

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