Child Care Center Awarded CRRSA Grant

child with paint on his hands poses for the camera
Rebecca A. Eckland

Twenty-eight years ago, the E.L. Cord Foundation Child Care Center opened its doors. Despite a worldwide pandemic, the Center has continued offering care to our community’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers during, arguably, one of the most difficult years in recent history. As evidence of the quality care offered by the center and its well-trained staff, the Child Care Center was recently received a subaward from the Children's Cabinet in the amount of $104,174. The Children's Cabinet received funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Grant to support local childcare center providers.

While the exact use of the funds is still in discussion, some of them will be used to perform some much-needed upgrades to the center. “We need to update some of our equipment,” said Child Care Center Director Keri Meranda. “For example, we still have a lot of the original shelving that was built with the Center. It was, of course, built very well, so it’s lasted, but it would be nice to update it.” 

In addition to updating furniture that is showing 28-years of wear and tear, Meranda hopes to upgrade older technologies to move the Center into the twenty-first century. These include Bluetooth speakers, iPads and recording equipment. Yet, the grant award is considerable and Child Care Center staff will meet with the Grants Office to make final decisions regarding the allocation of funds. 

For TMCC’s largest employer of student workers, this is momentous news. “Around 85% of our budget is dedicated to wages. We have to have one teacher for every three to four children, so this is just a labor-intensive industry. Last year, it was really hard to get employees. Luckily, we will all be on campus this Fall,” said Meranda.

The Child Care Center is a first job for many student workers, but there is a growing trend among these workers to remain at the Child Care Center as they continue their education at UNR for bachelor’s degrees and beyond. “This was never a ‘thing’ when I started working here nine years ago,” admitted Meranda, who reported that one of her student workers is beginning a Master’s program at UNR in the Fall. 

The grant, after such a difficult year, is a gift. “I thought, I’m just going to submit this grant and see what we get,” Meranda said. “I thought we would get maybe $5,000 or $10,000. I really had no expectations. We were very surprised.” 

While the grant was an unexpected surprise amid such a difficult year, the E.L. Cord Foundation Child Care Center continues to operate at full capacity with full waitlists for the infant, toddler and preschool age groups. On average, the Center receives four to five inquiries per day and waitlists extend into Fall 2022. This speaks to the quality of care offered by the Center, its dedicated full time staff and students workers.

“I’m excited that our E.L. Cord Foundation Child Care Center has received this grant to help with their operating costs. During the recovery from these difficult financial times, this money is going to make a positive impact for the Center to remain self-supporting. Keri and her team do incredible work that gained the recognition of the Children’s Cabinet that it is worthy of such an award,” said Dean Amy Williams. 

For more information about the E.L Cord Foundation Child Care Center, contact them at 775-674-7515.