WOOD RIVER, Neb. — It's not a secret that many central Nebraska communities have been struggling to provide adequate childcare to parents.
The issue becomes more apparent in the smaller communities that rely on in–home child care.
In 2013, the South Central Economic Development District of Nebraska conducted a survey in Wood River about community needs and found childcare was lacking.
"A bunch of surveys went out and in that initial survey process childcare came out as a problem. We have a big need for childcare in this community. We don't have any centers, we have in-home providers and now we are down to one licensed provider in town," said Elizabeth Troyer-Miller, a Wood River mom working to make Stick Creek Kids a reality.
After a follow up survey in January 2018 confirmed the need for child care , the plan for Stick Creek Kids Child development center was launched.
Now after months of organizing and fundraising, receiving a donation of land, and a $350,000 grant, the center is starting to take shape.
"So the Theilen family made a generous donation to us right here, use your visioning, behind me, we got land that had been for crops but now will be developed for housing and also the Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center," said Troyer-Miller.
For Elizabeth, who has had her own challenges finding childcare in Wood River, this new center isn't just a daycare, but a place for kids in Wood River to develop and thrive.
"When we think about childcare, we aren't just thinking about a space for kids to be during the day, but we want a place for kids can thrive and grow and be watched for those developmental milestones and encourage those. We are looking at different ways we can integrate music and technology and education so it's an early childhood development center, thinking of it like that and not just another place for kids to be," said Troyer-Miller
So far, the center has raised about 60 percent of its $2 million goal, and hopes to serve at least 80 kids after it is opened.
The center held an informational meeting Tuesday night to showcase the fundraising accomplishments and discuss the project with the public. Folks at the meeting expressed concerns on what the centers curriculum would include and many were excited for what it could bring to the community.
"You know, they're learning music, they're learning art, they're learning other languages all as very young children and it's awesome and to think that wood river can do that down the road... Pretty special,” said Wood River resident Peggy Krause.
Krause is a business owner who sees this as a chance for the community to grow. She said it could bring young folks back in town and encourage people to settle here because there will be somewhere for their kids to go.
Sara Arnett from Stick Creek Kids said there is not an exact start date for the project. Once funds are raised, they will break land and start working on the building.