Joplin day care and preschool owner discusses school district’s plans to build early childhood center

Joplin day care and preschool owner discusses school district’s plans to build early childhood center
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Charyl Copher has been in the daycare and preschool service for 25 years.

“I love to be able to see the difference in every child when they leave here.”

As the co-owner of a Joplin facility, she is concerned the school district’s plan to open an early childhood center will affect her business.

“I’ve spoke to many of my parents and I’ve asked them if the Joplin Public School System opens this up, would you bring your child there and and they said for financial reasons, ‘yes.'”

Officials with the school district met with city council members Monday to discuss plans to build a center that would provide preschool for 600 children, 300 in the morning and 300 in the afternoon.

A CDBG project, the center would also provide day care for 75 in the morning and 75 in the afternoon.

School officials say it is not their intention to take business away from private facilities.

“We’ve look at our historical data and we enroll 600 kids, at least, 600 kids each year and that tells us that there are approximately 3500 students in that zero to five age group and there are 237 less childcare slots than there were before the tornado,” said Amanda Boyer, Early Childhood Coordinator at Joplin Schools. “So we really feel there are enough children to go around, enough kids for everybody to serve.”

Copher says public schooling at such a young age may not provide the developmental support she says is found in the private sector.

“These kids need education, but there’s so much more than the educational side of it,” she said. “Are they going to be able to provide that?”

“Yes, absolutely, those babies need to be nurtured,” said Boyer. “And when I say babies, I mean zero to five-year-olds. They need a very nurturing environment and although we may be academically focused, we believe play and nurturing and having a safe environment where adults are respectful and trusting is very important to us.”

The school district says it recognizes a new center may be some competition to the private sector, but its goal is to meet what is says is a growing demand for high quality early education.

The center would offer open enrollment to all children. This includes special needs and at-risk students, model students and tuition-based students.