An Indiana licensing consultant will tour the Community Center of Hope as early as Wednesday to determine whether its childcare facility can begin accepting partial and full vouchers for preschool age students.
Allowing state vouchers would subsidize the education and childcare of 10 to 14 additional preschoolers, bumping enrollment to around 30 in that age group, Facility Director Chelsea Warriner said during the center's annual meeting Thursday.
A new classroom is being created to handle the expanded population. And in the rest of the facility, work is wrapping up on structural improvements that officials hope will impress the consultant enough for accreditation.
Improvements have included updated restrooms, an additional classroom exit, regulation-height furnishings to better accommodate users, the creation of a glass wall to separate the childcare facility from the food pantry, and an updated playground that has a specific layering and combination of rubber, mulch and dirt.
Warriner said they would have the floors stripped and waxed in the next few days to add more bling to the presentation.
"I hope at the very least we get a very strong indication if we'll be approved (when the consultant visits)," said Tresa Meier, vice president of the Community Center's board of directors. She said it might take some time beyond that before the consultant comes back with accreditation or a list of ways to improve.
It's about the money, of course, but it's also about giving the facility the glitz, glamour and, most importantly, the respect it needs to convince more families in Bartholomew County to trust facilitators with their children.
State accreditation means quality. Which is not to say that the childcare facility isn't already a quality community asset.
An assessment during the 2016-17 school year showed that 13 of the facility's 15 preschoolers were "above ready" for kindergarten, she said. The other two students were at the "ready" mark. So, the quality is there.
Jeff Yarnell, board president for the local Community Center, put the value of state accreditation another way.
"This is big for the center," he said, simply. "It's good for the community, it's good for the center, it's good for the parents."
The amount of subsidization for each student would depend on the financial needs of his or her family, Warriner said. She added, however, that the majority of the funding probably would be at or close to 100 percent.