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BCTC WINCHESTER-CLARK COUNTY CAMPUS PARTNERS WITH NEW CHILD CARE CENTER

Photo of Rebecca Biddle and Children from the Day Care

WINCHESTER, KY (Feb. 17, 2009) Deanna Harmon hasn't attended school for more than 10 years. She worked minimum wage jobs while raising her three children.

So when Harmon, 29, was accepted into the Bluegrass Community amp; Technical College nursing program, she also had to find child care.

She found out the Winchester-Clark County campus was partnering with Bluegrass Childrens Academy to open an on-campus child care center.

Between classes, Harmon now walks down a hallway to check on her son J.C., which gives her peace of mind.

You can pop out of class, come down and see what they need, and go back to class instead of driving to the other side of town, said Harmon, a first year nursing student. I can put more focus into my school work.

Its that reason alleviating the worry of child care why an anonymous donor gave $250,000 dollars to help build the center, said JoEllen Reed, community specialist for the college.

The donor wanted to see that no one was ever denied an education because child care was a barrier, Reed said. Many of the students are also parents, said Sheila Simpson, interim director of the Winchester-Clark County Campus.

Area businesses and community groups also donated more than $31,000 in furnishings and supplies. The donors included Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Lowes, Sekisui S-LEC America LLC, Sonoco, Clark County High School Alumni, the Winchester Kiwanis Club and the Mount Sterling Kiwanis Club. Winchester residents also donated, including Reed, who donated in honor of family friend 5-year-old Holden Bishop of Winchester, and resident Martha Gamble.

Rebecca Biddle, director of Bluegrass Childrens Academy, has 10 years of experience working in preschools and day cares, but partnering with BCTC has been one of her most rewarding experiences. Biddle said students who have visited the day care tell their stories of starting over and returning to school.

Not only do I love the kids, but I love the parents also, Biddle said. Because I feel like I am making a difference.

Bluegrass Childrens Academy opened at the start of Spring 2009 semester. Enrollment is open to students and the public.

The child care center is a state licensed day care facility for up to 30 children. The day care is accepting enrollment of children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. The facility offers full-time and part-time enrollment and drop-in service. Biddle said she has tried to make the child care tuition affordable for students.

Bluegrass Childrens Academy is privately owned and operated, but has partnered with BCTC to open an on-campus child care facility.

The day care is working toward having its infant, toddler and preschool programming accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, also known as NAEYC. The center will also participate in STARS for KIDS NOW, a voluntary quality rating system from the Kentucky Department of Education.

I want to be able to help each and every student, as much as I possibly can, to get a college education and not let child care hold them back, Biddle said.

The public is invited to an open house and ribbon cutting of Bluegrass Childrens Academy. The event will be held 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Winchester-Clark County Campus, 2020 Rolling Hills Lane in Winchester.

For more information on tuition or child care center, contact Bluegrass Childrens Academy Director Rebecca Biddle at (859) 246-4679 or rbiddle0004@kctcs.edu.

Photo: Rebecca Biddle (middle) is the director of Bluegrass Childrens Academy, an on-site day care at the Winchester-Clark County campus. Biddle says partnering with BCTC has been one of her most rewarding experiences.