Freshly Different: New Learning Academy in KC Urban Core

By Jazzlyn Johnson, The Community Voice


Crystal Turner dreaded dropping her daughter off at a daycare where she would not learn anything all day.


“I’m paying $200 every week for one child and they’re not teaching her anything. She's sitting in front of a TV all day and she's not being stimulated at all,” said a frustrated Turner about her personal experience.


As an educator with more than seven years’ experience teaching and creating curriculum with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools, Turner decided to

change what child care looks like in Kansas City’s urban core.


With the help of close friends, at the beginning of the pandemic, she created Kaye’s Learning Corner. The corner was designed with the goal of ensuring reliable, educational and affordable child care for parents who were going back to work and wanted a quality environment for their children.


SUPPORTING THE ENTIRE FAMILY

When Turner began Kaye’s, she did not think it would have taken off as quickly as it did. She started with just a few children; now she’s teaching at Kaye’s full-time, with 17 students enrolled and a waitlist. While many childcare facilities in Kansas City charge anywhere from $100 to $200 and up per week per child, Turner works to keep Kaye’s rate affordable for low-income and single parent households. Her weekly rate is $175 per family, regardless of how many children in the family attend.


Sasha Kind, who has two children attending Kaye’s, said not only is the cost of the program a huge plus for her as a single parent, she also appreciates how Kaye’s connects struggling families with resources and mentoring, which is something she never experienced at other childcare facilities in the area.


“There are childcare facilities that have been here 20 or 30 years and they are thriving, but they're not being a complete solution,” Kind said. “(Kaye’s) helps the whole family, it’s not just a band aid solution. They help that parent understand how they got into their financial situation and help come up with a plan so it doesn't keep repeating itself. That is what sets (Kaye’s) apart. Other daycare facilities are not teaching to break the cycle.”


Turner said Kaye’s focuses on the whole family, not just the child.


“If you are struggling in an area and that affects your child being here, we figure out how can we service you, so that we can continue to service the child,” she said.


VALUABLE EDUCATION

Kind says she’s also grateful for the valuable education her children are receiving at Kaye’s. All students at Kaye’s learn French, STEM, writing, art and music. Large parts of the Learning Corner’s mission are ensuring: children are actually prepared for kindergarten, don’t suffer from summer reading loss and that children going to school online have a safe place to complete their work.


“One thing that I’m really big on is African-American kids in the urban core getting quality education,” said Turner. “It shouldn’t matter what type of money their parents make - every parent wants their child to have the very best and we know that comes with education.”

NON-PROFIT AND FUNDRAISING

Turner is working to establish Kaye’s as a nonprofit organization, with a goal of expanding to positively impact more local families and become a household name for childcare in Kansas City.


One of their first priorities is fundraising to acquire a bigger building so they can host more children and create more jobs for individuals in the urban core.

To learn more about Kaye’s Learning Corner or to donate, visit their website: www.kayeslearningcorner.org.

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