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Posted on: October 26, 2022

City of Newport News Breaks Ground on Early Childhood Center

The City of Newport News, Peake Childhood Center, and Virginia Peninsula Community College have begun a new project to enhance early education outcomes and transform the lives of young people and their families in Newport News and beyond.  The three organizations are partnering to create the Newport News Early Childhood Center, which will serve approximately 200 children ages six weeks to five years of age.  While the facility is located in the Southeast Community of Newport News, it will support children and families from throughout the region.  

The City of Newport News is leading this innovative project, which leverages the expertise of partners to ensure young children have access to the strong foundational education and quality care they need to learn, grow, and thrive. 

“Nationwide, 56% of children who come from economically-disadvantaged homes are not ready when they begin school,” said Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price.  “High quality early education programs increase student achievement from kindergarten through graduation and beyond.  We plan to make early childhood education more accessible in Newport News and empower parents to become actively involved in their child’s learning.”

The Peake Childhood Center (PCC) will be responsible for the programming and daily operations of the facility.  They currently operate a site in Hampton and plan to replicate many services, as well as their funding model, in Newport News.  PCC offers the Peninsula’s only sliding-scale tuition rate that is open to the public and is based on family income and need.

“This unique partnership of a municipality, nonprofit, and institution of higher learning will be a model across the state and nation,” said Dr. Jennifer Parish, Executive Director of the Peake Childhood Center.  “Peake Childhood Center will now provide affordable and high-quality care for children in Newport News while ensuring the children are school ready when they leave us. The support provided by Newport News assists our children while strengthening the workforce, as families can remain employed and receive support that helps them contribute to their child’s success.”

Virginia Peninsula Community College’s (VPCC) Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and Development will be based at the Newport News Early Childhood Center.  An avenue for teacher preparation and credentialing, VPCC students will work with children at the center and go on to fill Virginia’s overwhelming shortage of early childhood teachers and caretakers.  

“We are excited about this partnership, which ensures that more children arrive academically, socially, and emotionally prepared for kindergarten,” said Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon, President of Virginia Peninsula Community College.  “Virginia Peninsula Community College will establish a Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Development to provide professional development for current teachers and offer specialized training to families, parents, and other adults. We will also offer our associate degree courses in early childhood education at the new site and our students will have experiential training opportunities at the Early Childhood Center. This is a truly transformational partnership.”

Construction on the Early Childhood Center is expected to cost $11 million, with an anticipated opening in the summer of 2024.  The city is using American Rescue Plan funds to cover construction expenses.  The Peake Childhood Center has launched a fundraising campaign to secure the annual operating dollars needed for the facility.  To learn more and donate, visit www.peakecc.org.  

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