By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Senior Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – Metro Technology Centers has partnered with Sunbeam Family Services to offer high quality early child development and education at its South Bryant Campus. A groundbreaking ceremony for construction will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 14, at 4901 S. Bryant Avenue.
The Early Education Center will serve the community in Southeast Oklahoma City.
Metro Tech’s partnership with Sunbeam will help to support students attending career training and working families to help meet workforce demands in Oklahoma City.
Sunbeam will be the operator of the center. The funds from Metro Tech’s 2019 bond initiative provided funding for the construction of the Early Education Center.
“We are constantly looking at ways to ensure our community has the support necessary to complete quality career training and build our workforce in the metro area,” said Metro Tech Superintendent Aaron Collins.
“It was apparent from our initial survey results that Southeast Oklahoma City was lacking affordable child care. Thanks to our partnership with Sunbeam and community support for our 2019 bond initiative, we are able to address this need in Southeast Oklahoma City.”
A recent study asked, “What is preventing Oklahomans from returning to the workforce after the pandemic?”
According to the interim report requested by Senator Carri Hicks, one of the top reasons is the lack of affordable quality child care.
“The workforce is changing and employees’ needs are changing,” said Senator Hicks. “Families must have access to affordable child care in order to get Oklahomans back to work, especially women entering and returning to the workforce.
“It is exciting to know that partnerships like this one are helping to address this issue,” Hicks stated.
A survey conducted by Metro Tech in 2019 asked families who attend Bodine Elementary School about the need of affordable quality childcare in the area. Nearly 75 percent responded they lack early education for their child or grandchild.
Bodine is one of the largest elementary schools in the Oklahoma City Public School District and is located directly south of Metro Tech’s South Bryant Campus.
Through this partnership, Sunbeam will operate five classrooms for babies and toddlers in the Center. These classrooms will be open to Metro Tech students, children whose siblings attend Bodine Elementary School and the community.
“We are honored to partner with Metro Tech in providing high quality early care and education to young children and families in our community,” said Sunbeam CEO Sarah Rahhal, LCSW, IMH-E®.
“We are committed to helping promote the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of young children.” Rahhal added. “This is accomplished through safe and developmentally enriching caregiving, which prepares babies and toddlers for continued growth, development and success in school and life.”
As an Early Head Start provider for Central Oklahoma, Sunbeam creates a foundation for continued achievement and readiness for school by building community support among schools, teachers, and families, according to Rahhal.
With Sunbeam’s low teacher-child ratio, children can receive more personalized attention from highly educated staff, she noted.
Children and families also are supported through Sunbeam’s specialized services, which includes connecting with Infant Mental Health therapists and the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
Metro Tech has four campuses offering short-term, career and customized business training. Campuses are located in South Oklahoma City, Northeast Oklahoma City, the Will Rogers Airport and Downtown Oklahoma City.