Founded in 1981, Hopkins Early Learning Center (HELC) is an independent non profit providing early care and education to families in the West Metro. Before COVID-19, HELC was full, with a wait list. Now they are serving less than 20 percent of the 117 children they are licensed to care for.
Executive Director Jamie Bonczyk knows there is growing concern about the impact of COVID-19 on the child care industry and the need to save child care to save the economy. “I am gravely concerned about what the lack of a larger public investment will mean for my program and child care as a whole,” she said.
Hopkins Early Learning Center was one of the first NAEYC accredited centers in MN and part of the Parent Aware pilot program. The center has continuously maintained the highest Parent Aware rating of four stars.
“We believe that all children and families deserve access to educators who understand child development and have the skills to individualize lessons in our classrooms,” said Bonczyk.
Half of HELC’s staff have been in the field of early childhood education and care for over 20 years with most spending their entire career there.
HELC’s revenue has been greatly reduced, while their fixed costs remain the same or to some degree increased. “Without the ability to stabilize our funding, we jeopardize the very foundation of what makes Hopkins Early Learning Center and programs like ours, high-quality,” said Bonczyk. “Our ability to recruit, retain and compensate an incredibly qualified workforce. Especially those working with our infants and toddlers.”
Bonczyk has applied for grants, but HELC has not been awarded any funding to date. She would like to see more investments in the system of child care “for it is now, and will continue to be, an essential service for communities and the economy.”
Hopkins Early Learning Center put together this short video to help lawmakers and the public better understand what their program and the child care industry as a whole is facing. Be sure to watch!