PARKERS LAKE – Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), like many organizations, suspended many of its in-person services when COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. This included curtailing preschool classes at its Eagle Child and Family Development Center. The statewide quarantine gave CAP officials a chance to step back and reevaluate the services provided in McCreary County. Due to fact that, over the past several years, quality early childhood education has successfully been expanded to Whitley City Elementary School, CAP has made the decision not to reopen its preschool classroom this fall for classes.
“Our model has always been to meet the needs of the community and when that need can be met in other ways, CAP always looks for ways to address emerging needs,” said Michael Loiacono, who served as manager of the center of Eagle for thirteen years and still oversees programming as director of Human Services for CAP. “CAP has operated the preschool since 1987 and we are proud of the numerous children who have graduated from our program, as well as our dedicated staff who have worked to make a difference in the lives of our children in the community.”
CAP was a pioneer in early childhood, operating early childhood education programs in eastern Kentucky since the early 70s. The Eagle preschool program began as a satellite classroom for the public school, formally partnering for decades with McCreary County Schools as well as organizations like Save the Children to bring high-quality early childhood education services to the Parkers Lake and Sawyer communities. Programming grew around the preschool, and when Eagle Elementary closed, CAP was asked to maintain the school as Eagle Community Center.
Twenty years ago, Kentucky launched “KIDS Now,” or “Kentucky Invests in Developing Success Now” which recognized the importance of early childhood education. In McCreary County and statewide, public schools have gradually been adding capacity to their preschool programs and making commitments to ensure the quality of these programs by participating in the STARS rating program. After seeing two decades with this kind of growth, CAP feels confident that they can pull back on their preschool services and expand services in other areas of need such as food insecurity, respite for caregivers, assistance to grandparents raising grandchildren, and the home repair services for which it is already well known.
“Preschool children in our community now have access to new classrooms, transportation, school lunches, and special services through McCreary Schools,” said Joe Beaudoin, manager of Eagle CFDC since December 2019. “I am excited for the opportunities this will present for Eagle CFDC to provide new programming for children and their families. CAP is committed to continuing to work with families and community leaders to identify additional needs where we can have an impact.”
Eagle Community Center remains open and will continue to provide in-home respite services, elderly services, afterschool programming (SPARK), emergency assistance, counseling services, and assistance with home repairs. Once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, its facilities are also available to rent for receptions, reunions, benefits, and community events. Staff are working to identify the need for expanded services through partnerships with the school district and other community agencies. While most educational instruction statewide has gone “virtual,” CAP has recently collaborated with McCreary County Schools to establish the community center as a mobile hot spot so that local students have access to Wi-Fi to complete homework.
“It has always been CAP’s mission to fill the needs in our communities that are either not being met or are not being sufficiently met,” said Beaudoin who continues to manage the staff at the community center. “As an organization, we want to meet the needs of our staff as well as the community during this time of transition. We are grateful for the support we have received from the community during our many years operating the child development center and we look forward to our continued investment in quality youth programming.”
Christian Appalachian Project has been building hope, transforming lives, and sharing Christ’s love through service in Appalachia since our founding more than 50 years ago. With the help of donors, volunteers, staff, and the communities it serves, CAP has grown to impact the lives of more than 1.5 million people each year.
Beaudoin and his staff are planning to conduct a community survey to identify needs that are not currently being met. Details have not been finalized but will be forthcoming. For additional information, contact Joe Beaudoin at email@example.com or 606.376.3272.