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Learning Hub to expand in former Morning Call building, offer more services for families in need
Morning Call - 10/20/2022
With a growing number of families and children in Allentown needing social service support, Community Services for Children is expanding The Learning Hub at Sixth and Linden streets by 85,000 square feet, adding a broad range of early childhood education and health services.
The nonprofit is also working with Valley Health Partners Community Health Center, which has also signed a lease, building owner City Center Investment Corp. announced Thursday.
“It’s critical, you know, health care, education, housing are sort of all interconnected,” said Nate Boateng, director of community engagement and marketing for Valley Health Partners. “We know there’s a dire need in the communities that we serve for the services. And so any opportunity to offer those to a wider number of people we’re going to take a close look at and the situation just presented itself as a perfect fit.”
In a news release, City Center said that by further leveraging the resources of CSC’s Head Start and other partners, CSC hopes to make a long-term impact on more of Allentown’s disadvantaged through CSC Downtown. The expansion has already begun and will be complete in two years.
“The need for better outcomes is critical,” CSC CEO/President Deidra Vachier said in a statement. “For homeless children and those living in poverty, high-quality early education gives them a fair chance for a bright future. At The Learning Hub, due to its unique enhanced programming and the support of various community partners, children enrolled in Head Start outperform their peers in every area of learning.
“But a waiting list of 500 Allentown children for Head Start shows we need to do more,” she said.
According to CSC, the expansion will allow its programs and services to have greater outcomes immediately, including more healthy children; more high-quality education for students from low-income families; more students prepared for kindergarten; more stable, engaged families; and more child care for working parents.
Amenities will include STEM and innovation labs, a fitness center, an arts room and an outdoor “naturescape.” CSC’s Head Start program will add 12 classrooms to serve 400 children, up from the 150 it currently serves.
For parents seeking financial help with child care, enrollment in early-childhood services and health care, the new center will provide streamlined access to an additional 3,500 adults per year. The number of staff members providing these services will more than double.
Valley Health Partners offers comprehensive primary care and other services. It plans to open its 20,000-square-foot space in mid-2023.
As VHP’s largest standalone location, the setting will house an expansion of primary pediatric care, comprehensive and preventive dental care for children, and a full range of ophthalmology and optometry services. In addition, VHP will provide a pediatric acute care center, offering walk-in, same-day appointments for children.
VHP has a facility at 17th and Chew streets. Boateng said the new location, about 12 blocks away, will make a difference for many of its clients.
“This gets us more space closer to the patients that we’re already serving,” he said, “and improves access to additional services like vision, dental and pediatric care. We’re really excited.”
The building previously housed The Morning Call from 1920 to 2020. City Center bought the headquarters from the newspaper’s owner, Tribune Publishing, in 2016 for $8.5 million and The Morning Call rented its space until it left during the COVID pandemic.
Morning Call reporter Evan Jones can be reached at email@example.com.
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