(From left to right) DES Division of Child Care Assistant Director, Lela Wendell, First Presbyterian Preschool Director, Shiloh Murillo, and DES Deputy Assistant Director, Michelle Genaro.
First Presbyterian Preschool in Mesa hosted a grand reopening community event on September 6, 2023, in recognition of a remodel of the facility made possible by a $254,000 Arizona Child Care Infrastructure Grant provided by funding from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES).
All of First Presbyterian Preschool’s classrooms received major renovations, including class organization products and equipment, and even new countertops.
The extensive grant awarded First Presbyterian the ability to update essentially everything from an HVAC system to a security system and gates to bathrooms, classrooms, playground enhancements and landscaping.
Shiloh Murillo, the director of First Presbyterian Preschool, was at the center of the process and event. She beamed with pride as she greeted the families and church members who came out to celebrate the renovation and show their support.
“It felt so rewarding to see the community come together,” said Shiloh. “It really created bridges between our families, our church community, our neighborhood communities and the vendors. It was just one of those things I think it helped to give us more credibility as a community because it took a community to pull it off.”
The Arizona Child Care Infrastructure Grant program is administered by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Phoenix, in partnership with DES and Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First (FTF) through funding from the DES Child Care Stabilization Grant program.
The Infrastructure Grant program focuses on child care providers who serve DES-eligible families in areas where child care is extremely limited or unavailable, including areas where it is critical to provide non-standard hour care, infant and toddler care, child care in underserved areas, and child care that meets the needs of children with disabilities.
Preschool families celebrating the reopening after the renovation of First Presbyterian Preschool.
Event attendees also included DES Division of Child Care Assistant, Director Lela Wendell, and Deputy Assistant Director, Michelle Genaro, who helped LISC with the program.
Michelle said the impact of this grant for a provider such as First Presbyterian is “beyond words,” because oftentimes, providers have to put off repairs and renovations due to lack of funding.
Lela offered a similar sentiment and is looking forward to the future for First Presbyterian and the other child care providers who received the Infrastructure Grant: “I spoke to one of the teachers who has been here for 20 years, and this is an opportunity that they didn’t expect. It’s kind of like that once in a lifetime opportunity that the child care industry hasn’t had. So with these funds being able to provide remodels that have been long overdue, being able to refresh the classrooms and provide great furniture and learning activities to brighten up the space is so important.”
For more information on child care, including grant opportunities, visit the DES website.