Through a generous $2 million grant from The 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation, the Miller Center—through its joint venture with Evangelical Community Hospital and Geisinger and in partnership with the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA—is poised to make childcare in the region more affordable and more accessible.
The $2 million grant from The 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation, along with a $1.68 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Congressionally Directed Spending Grant previously secured with the help of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s office, will cover the construction costs for a childcare center at The Miller Center. The plans include an expansion on the west side of the facility. Other operational details are still in development.
“Our workforce at Evangelical is at least 50% women, if not more. Accessing affordable, quality childcare is the number one issue I hear when discussing the challenges facing young families with employees and prospective employees,” said Kendra Aucker, President and CEO, Evangelical Community Hospital, and President and Board Chair, The Miller Center. “We have to get creative and help these families with this essential service.”
“As an organization passionate about the health and well-being of the communities in Central Pennsylvania, we understand that far more goes into mental and physical health than just medicine,” said Matthew Walsh, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Geisinger, and Board Secretary, The Miller Center. “We’re proud to be part of this collaborative effort that will help provide local families with the support they need to live productive and fulfilling lives in these incredible communities.”
“In order to operationalize the expansion and make quality, affordable childcare more readily available to the families who need it, we’ll be looking to area employers to join us in this effort,” added Aucker.
The need for more affordable childcare options continues to grow.
“There are nearly 11,000 pre-kindergarten aged children in Union, Snyder, and Northumberland counties and almost 60% of them have working parents,” said Bonnie McDowell, CEO, Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1,500 childcare classrooms have closed in Pennsylvania. So as more and more children need care, parents face fewer and fewer options.”
Construction of the new space—the first step in this effort to address the community need—would not be possible without the support of The Degenstein Foundation.
“Charles Degenstein was a long-serving member of the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA and kids were his passion,” noted The 1994 Charles B. Degenstein Foundation Trustees. “The Foundation is pleased to continue its support of The Miller Center and the mission to develop a sustainable model of childcare that delivers more accessibility and more affordability to young families in our region. In addition, this effort benefits our business community by paving the way for more young families to remain in the workforce.”