President’s Message

edc-vc, president, ceo, sbdc, smallbusiness, venturacounty

Bruce Stenslie

May 10th was a red letter day as EDC-VC joined local officials, First 5 Ventura County and Gus and Alma Ferrel, owners of ABC Kids Preschool, to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the ABC Kids new Oxnard location on the campus of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme (the Club). The Ferrels made available 78 new preschool slots in the Oxnard community, which has a high, unmet need for early childhood education.

This event marked the long-term collaborative efforts of the Ferrels as entrepreneurs committed to early childhood education, the  Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura CountyFirst 5 Ventura County as funders of a loan program, and the Club. Our collaborative mission was to add quality preschool slots to Oxnard.
Aware of the Community Investment Loan program funded by First 5, the Club reached out to the EDC-VC to consult about the potential for using excess space at their Oxnard club for quality child care, identifying three core benefits:
  1. By extending its services to younger children, the Club could add value to member families, providing a more comprehensive suite of services and creating a feeder for its youth development activities.
  2. By creating 78 new child care spots, the operation could help close the gap in access to quality care, particularly for low income children in the area.
  3. By contracting the childcare and preschool service out to a private, professional provider, the Club could lease the space to a business, generating rental income, essential for supporting and expanding the Club’s youth development offerings
The goal of expanding high-quality preschool to every preschool-aged child in Ventura County requires stewardship, operating dollars, facilities, trained teachers and public will. Reflecting on this most recent example of the positive impact regional partnerships can create through collaboration, I am encouraged that public-private partnerships are one way we can help our communities reach this goal.

The Club worked with First 5 Ventura County to develop the evaluation criteria for selecting the care provider, assuring that the partnership with a quality care provider would maintain alignment with the Club’s mission and values. EDC-VC provided the Club and the qualified child care provider with technical assistance with the business plan, assuring a sustainable service and partnership.

EDC-VC also blended the First 5 funds with private capital to build out the space to meet licensing standards. The City of Oxnard played a key role by owning and leasing the property to the Club and supporting the expansion of quality care and preschool by assuring a quick and efficient review of building plans to help the center launch.
Recent research demonstrates that regional investments in high-quality preschool programs can result in long-term economic and workforce gains. (Click here for the full study). To achieve these gains, we first need to narrow the widening gap between disadvantaged families and their access to high-quality preschool programs.
Currently in Ventura County, about 50% of preschool-aged children do not attend preschool. The Ventura County cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme are especially challenged with limited access and capacity. To that end, First 5 and EDC-VC joined together to create the Community Investment Loan Fund. The Fund helps increase the number of licensed child care and quality preschools needed to serve the high-need communities by providing below-market financing.
The Community Investment Loan Program, and regional stewardship supporting the development of quality child care and preschool spaces, has enabled real quality outcomes in early child education. Since 2011, the following results have been achieved:
  • 318+ new high-quality preschool spots have been established, 107 of which are for the especially scarce and high-value infant and toddler age group.
  • Created more than 52 full-time equivalent jobs in early child education.
  • Secured a total lending, from all funds, of $1,665,000, with $1,196,868 in First 5 Tobacco Tax fund-leveraging an additional $468,132 in private lending.
  • Achieved a return on investment for each new child care spot for an affordable $5,236 in loan capital. Full-day preschool at age four for low-income children has the highest ratio of adult earnings benefits to costs, at over 5-to-1.

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