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UAMS breaks ground on new employee child care center

Josie Lenora
Officials broke ground Wednesday on the new facility which is slated to open in the spring of 2024.

Work is underway on a child care center in Little Rock for employees of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Wednesday for the 20,000-square-foot facility which will be able to accommodate up to 200 children from infancy through pre-K.

City Director Cathy Webb, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson and Dr. Stephanie Gardner spoke at the event.

“As we break ground, I want you to imagine a beautiful facility that will open in 2024,” Gardner said.

Much of the $10 million needed to fund the project was raised by Dr. Jan Shorey, a retired UAMS physician. She says UAMS used to have a child care facility in the 1980s, and that the current project to build a new child care facility has been in the making for about 16 years. The motivation, Shorey said, was seeing employees have to choose between work and child care.

“The conflict between getting out of work on time to pick up your child from some daycare that's a 30-minute drive vs. making sure that every loose end is tied up with a patient is too big a conflict.”

The center will make special accommodations for parents who work long hours.

“Our operating rooms get going with the first patient at 7:30 [in the morning],” Shorey explained, “and if there's an emergency case that runs late, they might not be out of the OR until 7:30 at night.”

She says the project took “decades of difficulties,” but hopes the facility will be more than just a daycare. She said they are partnering with the childcare company Bright Horizons to develop an academic and wellness curriculum.

The facility is expected to open in the spring of 2024. It’s being built on a four-acre property at 11th and Monroe streets, near the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.