By Alison James
Associate Editor

A $350,000 grant will mean the realization of a years-long passion for the Child Care Resource Center.

In partnership with Employers’ Child Care Alliance, CCRC announced it has been awarded a $350,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish a Family Resource Center in Opelika. “The funding, starting immediately and ending in March 2016, will serve to reconnect families with their community through seamless services, education and awareness,” reads a press release from the center.

“This has been one of our strategic goals for some time – to blend all the services available in the community among community partners together to form a Family Resource Center,” said Tammy Morgan, CCRC executive director. “We’re just ecstatic to be able to bring this to this community.”

Morgan said CCRC received notice of the grant April 1 and is already working in earnest  to gather information and make plans for the Family Resource Center, which will, in many ways, be an expansion of what the CCRC currently does.

Centrally-located and free to the community, the FRC will provide all kinds of resources and services community members might need.

“It’s not to take clientele away from other community partners – it’s basically to increase their clientele,” Morgan said. “A lot of times, when people come into town, they might only have means of coming to one location. Transportation is an issue for people sometimes. So if they could come to one centralized location, and that location be able to provide case management, direct them or even make the phone calls for them, that cuts down on a lot of their stress and anxiety.”

Services like those available through the DHR, the food bank, literacy initiatives and childcare will be among those to which a case manager will link families in need.

“There hasn’t been a centralized information center for this area,” said CCRC program manager Kim McManus. “So, if you’re a parent moving into this area, you might go to DHR, and DHR has their certain services, but they don’t know all of the other things that family needs.”

According to information provided by the CCRC, 21.4 percent of people in Lee County live below the poverty level.

“We have people come in every day with needs,” McManus said. “It might be that they got a ride to one location … and they get here and we have to turn them away because we don’t have the services, and we don’t know who to tell them to go get the services from. We might direct them to DHR, or we might direct them to the food bank and they get over there and are told, ‘No, you have to go to the Community Market to get what you need.’ It’s just a lot of runaround and frustration that our families feel.”

“A lot of time families don’t know how to push forward – they just give up and go back home and do without those services,” Morgan added. “You want people to be able to utilize what this great community of Lee County has to offer.”

Morgan said they hope to expand into a vacant space adjacent to the current CCRC.

“There’s a lot we anticipate bringing to the community,” Morgan said, mentioning enrichment activities and a computer lab. “It will be a building block process. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Association with the Employers’ Child Care Alliance, “a unique public-private partnership,” Morgan said, is how the CCRC drew attention for this grant, and discussions with the Alliance and other community groups will build the FRC into what it needs to be.

“It’s an accomplishment for this agency but really for employers who have been there and continued their pledged support every year to make this happen,” Morgan said. “It’s a seed that was planted many years ago but has bloomed through the years and is hopefully going to bloom even bigger and better.”