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What is the Child Enrichment Center? What makes it different?

Did you know that less than 30% of kids from low-income homes passed their kindergarten readiness compared to 60% of kids from higher income homes?
Did you know that over the past 30 years, child care costs have accelerated faster than any other basic household expenses such as housing, transportation, and groceries?
Did you know that Ohio’s average pay for child care workers is $10.65/hour and disproportionately impacts women of color?

At Lower Lights, we have a tendency of seeing faces first, before the statistics. Through our Bright Lights Kids program, we have matched kids who were way behind in their reading and math with tutors to help catch them up to their counterparts in the suburbs. In our housing programs, we have had to help navigate our Family Housing residents through finding quality and affordable day care, only to find out that the hours of operation did not match with the parent’s work schedule or bus route.

Child care costs have risen 41% since the pandemic, with parents spending up to 20% of their income on day care costs.

For the many low income families we have served over the years, we have seen and heard the injustices that are an everyday reality in keeping families in the never ending cycle of poverty. A year and a half ago, we began to sense a stirring that God was nudging us towards a response. We formed a “think tank” of local experts from a range of backgrounds in the childcare industry and tasked them with helping us understand the issues in childcare and to dream with us what a childcare center could look like to address those issues. We then took their ideas, talked to the families in our housing programs, added in Lower Lights’ 20+ years of experience in housing low-income families and our 11 years of operating a high quality after school program, and the Lower Lights Child Enrichment Center (CEC) was born!

The Lower Lights CEC is an innovative approach that targets 3 main groups of people: Kids, Families, and Employees. We will offer quality early childhood education for 50-60 children from 0-12 years old, including an after school program. The CEC is located in the Hilltop neighborhood of Columbus and will be accessible for working families by being open 12 hours a day, and offering access to resources and supportive services such as parenting classes, financial literacy classes and mentoring, and addiction recovery support. The CEC is intentional about not just offering a job to employees, but establishing an equitable employment program for childcare workers that offers a career pathway with certifications, performance mentoring, and continuing education & college tuition. We are committed to paying our employees 25% above industry average, including benefits.

The purchased building as it is right now

The Renovation Building Plans

In February of this year, we purchased an 8,050 sq. ft. building on Sullivant Avenue for $500,000. We met with Hilltop neighborhood stakeholders to get their input. Summit Construction has come alongside and is serving as our general contractor for the renovation.

The Lower Lights Child Enrichment Center is not just about affordable childcare, it’s about providing a chance at a better life. A chance at wholeness. It’s an opportunity to offer support, safety, compassion, justice, and most importantly, a future that they would most likely not have known.

The Child Enrichment Center is our chance to change the future. We need investors to join us in building that future.

You can change the future by getting involved, donating, and becoming an advocate for low-income children, families, and childcare workers!

Join us in our response to the injustices of our most vulnerable members of the community!

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