$167K approved to fund free daycare for children of Durham Tech students :: WRAL.com


— Finding reliable child care is a barrier that prevents many parents from keeping their jobs or finishing school.

The Durham County Board of Commissioners on Monday night approved $167,186 of its general fund balance to fund a daycare at Durham Technical Community College. The contract between the Durham County government and Kate’s Korner will provide “tutoring and enrichment services” for young people in families that live in Durham Housing Authority (DHA) communities, that attend Durham Technical Community College or that live at Families Moving Forward, a Durham-based shelter.

“It’s kind of a liberating thing for people to not have to worry or bring children to class,” said Kate’s Korner owner Kate Goodwin. “So, I’m sure I’m making some professors happy.”

There is a morning program from 8 a.m. to noon and an afternoon program from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It serves kids ages 3-12.

The learning center is expected to provide 60 children with tutoring and social-emotional support and to teach conflict resolution and team building.

“It’s so easy to drop in five or ten minutes before your class starts, and know that your child has a safe, secure place to be while you’re in class,” said Cathy Collie-Robinson, who is the chair of education at Durham Tech.

Last fall, Durham Tech’s child care grant recipients had an average household income of nearly $1,600 a month, with an average household size of 2.5 people, city documents showed.

“I know that we are hearing anecdotally that this has been an attractive draw for some students,” Collie-Robinson said of the program enabling moms to return to the classroom.

Kate’s Korner provided distance learning, summer camps and after-school programs throughout the pandemic to more than 270 children and 150 families, according to city documentation.

City leaders allotted the money with the understanding that rising costs of housing, utilities and food often leave low-income families struggling to cover child care expenses, while child care is necessary for parents to work or get the education they need to get a better job and improve the family budget.

Goodwin said she sees firsthand how the option of free child care is helping parents succeed.

“How do we help people who have barriers to jobs and people who have barriers to getting into school?” Goodwin said. “We talk about transportation a lot [and] we talk about other barriers, but child care is a huge barrier.

“Any way that we can help out, we do.”

Finding affordable after-school care is an issue many parents face in Durham and throughout the Triangle. In July, Durham Public Schools Office of Community Education hosted forums to brainstorm how to improve existing programs, where hundreds of students are on waiting lists. Many programs are also in need of staff members to supervise the children.

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One of the things that, in order to be able to help our nation get back on their feet and get back to work, is to be able to have barriers eliminated,” Goodwin said. “Child care is a huge barrier to that.”

For about two years, Kate’s Korner has operated at Durham Tech, and has previously gotten funds from the county. The approved funding on Monday is expected to cover the operating costs for Kate’s Korner through the end of the year.

“Kate’s Korner has improved my life tremendously,” said single mom Summer Jones, who brings her son to the daycare.

Jones, who is a student at Durham Tech, said she is grateful more funding is on the way for the daycare. Her hope is to become a child therapist.

“I would love to thank the commissioners for giving us a chance and pouring back into the community because we really do benefit from that long-term,” Jones said. “Children have a safe, positive environment to be in and I really appreciate that.”

Jones’ son attends Kate’s Korner every other day so that she can have some time to study.

“It is a lot to juggle, but with this implemented into my schedule, it makes it a lot more convenient,” Jones said.

While Kate’s Korner is also due to receive $12,500 from Durham Tech, Goodwin told WRAL News that many times she is dipping into her own pockets to make sure the kids have everything they need. For Goodwin, this is about equity to make sure kids have a chance to get an early childhood education.


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