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PRCC’s Early Childhood Academy grows

Pearl River Community College’s Early Childhood Academy will be able to offer additional services and extended hours after moving into a larger facility.

The academy is funded by a grant from the state of Mississippi that gives money to community colleges. The college itself paid for the purchase of the new location and grant funds were used to make alterations to the space so it would meet the department’s needs, said Coordinator Katherine Dedeaux.

Members of PRCC’s Board of Trustees, President Dr. Adam Breerwood and Dr. Janna Causey, the Vice President of Forrest County operations, supported purchasing the new location, said Dedeaux.

“We’re really invested in our community and we appreciate PRCC’s support,” said Dedeaux.

The academy operates like a children’s museum, where children and parents can play, and also serves as a free library. The facility offers activities like story time, bingo and grandparent’s coffee hour. Children can come in and play with toys, and parents can check out and take home toys their children are excited to play with.

“This is a free service,” said Dedeaux. “We’re not asking for anything back. We just want you to come and help your child learn.”

The center also provides training to area daycare workers and through a preschool development grant, was able to help provide training and thousands of dollars worth of resources to area childcare centers.

In the last year, 5,000 people visited the Poplarville center. The large number of visitors is part of what led to the purchase of a larger facility, said Dedeaux.

The new location allows the academy to offer more resources and services. Since its previous location was so small, the academy also had a mobile center and a warehouse to store additional materials. With the new larger space, the center was able to combine all three so more services will be available more often.

The center will be offering extended hours on two Thursdays and one Saturday each month, which should make services more accessible.

The larger facility has also enabled the center to provide a space for the local homeschoolers association to hold a spelling bee at the end of March, said Dedeaux.

The center’s staff began the process of moving in November, and the new space has been open to the public since the beginning of February. A grand opening will be held on March 10 at 10 a.m.