Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024

Ballad Health announces new Center for Early Learning in Kingsport

Following through on its commitment to enhance access to high-quality childcare across the Appalachian Highlands, Ballad Health has unveiled plans for a new Center for Early Learning on the campus of Indian Path Community Hospital in Kingsport.

The Ballad Health Center for Early Learning in Kingsport, expected to open in early 2025, will transform an existing building at 2020 Brookside Drive, on the hospital campus, into a state-of-the-art childcare facility. This addition will significantly increase childcare capacity for both Ballad Health team members and the local community. The center is part of Ballad Health's broader initiative, announced in early 2022, to invest up to $37 million to establish up to 11 new childcare centers across the region.

"Addressing the childcare shortage is critical for families in our region,” said Anthony Keck, chief population health officer and executive vice president for system innovation for Ballad Health.

“Parents know how important early learning is to their child’s development. Providing more access to high-quality childcare not only makes us a more attractive employer compared to our competition, but it also allows us to serve hundreds of children in our community, many of whom we have identified through our mother and child assistance programs such as Strong Starts and Strong Futures.”

The Center for Early Learning in Kingsport will join other childcare centers Ballad Health operates and has opened since its initial announcement: Greeneville, Johnson City, Elizabethton and Bristol in Tennessee, as well as a center in Lebanon, Virginia. Moving ahead, the Center for Early Learning in Norton, Virginia, will open later this year, and centers in Abingdon and Marion, Virginia, are in development now. In Abingdon, the Ballad Health Center for Early Learning will operate the new 300-child center developed in partnership with EO’s Workforce Development Hub.

Independent research by Tennesseans for Quality Early Education highlights the critical need for such initiatives, showing that 98% of parents in the Appalachian Highlands with children under 5 report that inadequate access to childcare adversely affects their work productivity and career opportunities. Furthermore, two-thirds of parents struggle to find childcare, often encountering lengthy waitlists. These challenges are intensified by the fact that 48% of Tennesseans live in a childcare "desert," areas with three times as many children as available licensed childcare spots.

“Since the planning stages of this new service, we have been committed to listening to what our residents, team members and leaders in Kingsport want and need,” said Rebecca Beck, chief executive officer of Holston Valley Medical Center and Indian Path Community Hospital.

“Our team members and community members have expressed similar needs for more services and care for women, children and working families, and we’re honored to address that with our medical care and childcare. By addressing this need, we aim to support our workforce and contribute to the well-being of our community."

Like all Ballad Health Centers for Early Learning, the new Kingsport center will operate under the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network, which was created to advance children's health in the community. The children’s network extends through programs in Kingsport, such as the pediatric emergency department and pediatric physical therapy and rehabilitation at Indian Path, as well as community-based programs like Strong Starts, which connects parents with resources to support children from birth through kindergarten. As part of Ballad Health, it also works hand in hand with broader women’s and children’s care in Kingsport, including the newly renovated Barbara Humphreys Birthing Center at Indian Path and the Ballad Health Medical Associates OB/GYN and Women’s Health clinic in Kingsport.

"The Ballad Health Center for Early Learning, in collaboration with other Niswonger Children’s Network services, is dedicated to supporting families and providing children with strong foundations,” said Chris Jett, chief executive officer of the Niswonger Children’s Network. “Coalescing these programs, professionals and passions, we can generate educational success, economic stability and lasting improvements in health.”

The new center will operate extended hours from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m., accommodating up to 80 children and employing 21 childcare professionals. Parents with children interested in joining the center can fill out an interest form at www.balladhealth.org/childcare to join a waitlist. The Center for Early Learning in Kingsport will also be seeking teachers with a bachelor’s degree or child development certification, as well as assistants with and without prior experience, with training provided for those without certification.

“Our Centers for Early Learning are dedicated to nurturing the development of children through dynamic, play-based learning," said Dr. Amy Doran, Ballad Health’s corporate director of early childhood care and education. "This learning approach emphasizes early literacy, numeracy and science skills, as well as social and emotional growth, and it helps children be fully prepared to enter kindergarten. This helps set the stage for future success in school and in life."

Further details about the Center for Early Learning in Kingsport, including registration information, will be announced as they become available. More information about all Ballad Health Centers for Early Learning, including waitlists and registration for all new and upcoming locations, can be found at www.balladhealth.org/childcare, and employment opportunities at the new center will be listed online at www.balladhealth.org/careers.