Gov. Steve Sisolak reads a story Thursday to children in Western Nevada College’s Child Development Center.
Rachel Schneider / WNC
The Western Nevada College Child Development Center received a friendly call from Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday, who stopped by to read a story, sing songs and share a few snacks with some of the center’s young children.
The visit with the college’s future Wildcats was part of Sisolak’s message that child care is a high priority to help families get back on track after the pandemic. In his recent State of the State address, the governor announced he would devote $160 million in federal funds toward decreasing costs of child care for Nevada’s families and supporting child care facilities and workers such as the CDC in an effort to help working parents.
The amount is in addition to $200 million previously committed by Sisolak’s administration, including $13 million for child care employee recruitment and more than $4 million in family resources.
“We realize especially during the pandemic how important it was to have a place for these kids to go and to do whatever we can do to expand them and make it easier for parents to get back to work,” Sisolak told reporters after touring the center. “The biggest thing you have as a parent is you want to know your kids are safe.”
Sisolak said he was proud the Nevada System of Higher Education has taken an active role in promoting early childhood education and child care to its own college students as an option and added his administration would like to expand the program more.
CDC director Anna Lisa Acosta-Rogers reported the federal funding already is funneling through to families, with three weeks’ of tuition being provided to every family currently enrolled up to $150,000 in value.
WNC’s highly popular program for parents experiences a waiting list with every open enrollment period with parents lining up at the door at 2 a.m., she said. While they do serve on a first come, first-served basis, priority is given to military families, students and faculty members.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to hear someone like the governor say we need to expand these types of services,” she said.
The center is the only nationally accredited facility in Carson City with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, collectively made up of 60,000 individual members of the early childhood community. Acosta-Rogers said the CDC goes above basic requirements for assessments and curriculum for young children from 6 weeks of age until they leave to attend kindergarten.
She currently has seven classified head teachers, eight student workers and 20 support staff working in the CDC but maintained the center remains at full capacity. She encouraged the community to become involved as child care workers, adding they need to be able to adequately pay all their staff members.
“We have 100 children every single day, and we get calls every day,” she said. “We would love to expand.”
Expansion would mean adding a new building to its facility.
“We’ve been at capacity for years,” she said.