McKenzie River community celebrates grand opening of new child care facility
Meet the newest kids on campus! The 2,600 square foot “Little Eagles” Child Care Center is now open at the McKenzie School in Blue River. The center takes its name from the school's mascot: the Eagles.
“Anywhere in Lane County and around the nation, child care is a big issue,” said Lane Tompkins, McKenzie School District superintendent. “And, being able to provide that for our community is a good way for us to hook in future Eagles and get them supported so then that way, they’re ready for kindergarten and beyond.”
Lacey Joy is longtime Director of Special Programs. She’s hired six local child care specialists to work at the center.
“They’re all moms,” said Joy. “So, not only are we supporting those who are going to access the center for child care but we’ve also provided jobs!”
How a child care facility dream came true
Joy said local donors, including philanthropists through the Oregon Community Foundation, funded $420,000 for the building costs. This week, Lane County government threw in $200,000 toward operations.
Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch represents East Lane County and attended the grand opening of the center. She said seeing the final product brings her joy and relief.
“I’m the only commissioner on the Board who has a young child right now, so I truly understand the importance of child care,” said Buch. “After what this community has been through, to see the recovery and the resilience is so heartening. I will never stop working for the families of the McKenzie River.”
The space where the childcare center was built was originally a satellite campus for Lane Community College. Then, it was a food pantry, particularly important during the pandemic and after the devastating 2020 Holiday Farm fire.
Serious discussion about using the space as a child care facility started in early 2022. Joy said by last October, the funds were raised and construction began. She said this child care center is the first finished civic project on the McKenzie River following the fire.
“It feels so good and makes me so happy that we’re making our way back together and stronger,” said Joy.
Little Eagles Child Care Center is open to children from zero to five years old. Pay schedules for pre-school are made on a sliding scale. About 90% of families working with the center are eligible for SNAP, said Joy.
For more information about the child care center, call 541-854-5220.