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    Ballad Health announces new center for Early Learning in Kingsport

    By Jayonna Scurry,


    KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – On Tuesday, Ballad Health hosted a press conference announcing the news of its new Center for Early Learning coming to Kingsport.

    This will be Ballad’s first childcare center in Kingsport. It will be located at 2020 Brookside Drive on the Indian Path Community Hospital campus. An old billing office building is being transformed into what they describe as a state-of-the-art childcare facility.

    Amy Doran, Ballad’s Corporate Director of Early Care and Education, said this center will help fill the childcare gap that’s missing in the area.

    “This whole region is known as a child care desert because we just don’t have enough per the number of children who need child care,” Doran said. “We want to make sure that families can bring their children, drop them off and go to work confidently. And the whole idea is to get more families back in the workforce and to make and to maintain that workforce.”

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    The center will be for children six weeks of age through five years old and will have 80 spots available. The operational hours will be from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

    Doran said qualified degreed teachers will guide the kids through lessons as they play.

    “It might look like a child might be in a block center playing with blocks, but what that really is, is something that a teacher has planned and its pre-engineering skills and exploration and it includes things like designing, implementing, working with peers, collaborating,” Doran said.

    Doran said this will help prepare the children for the classroom before kindergarten.

    “We know that early childhood development and the learning that goes on prior to age five is going to set children up for success in kindergarten and that’s going to set them up for success in third grade, which we all know is important and beyond,” Doran said.

    The facility will have six classrooms upstairs with the ability to expand downstairs. They hope to turn the downstairs area into offices for support staff and have an indoor play space for the kids. Playgrounds will also be constructed outside.

    The building’s entire square footage is around 15,000, with each floor being approximately 7,500 feet.

    BurWil Construction Company along with Ballad had safety in mind, as a security vestibule will be at the main entrance.

    “It limits who can access the facility and it allows us to only let folks through that we know that we trust and that have been approved to be in and be around the kids,” Nick Robinette, Ballad’s Corporate Director of Construction and Project Management, said.

    Robinette said a lot of teamwork with BurWil helped make this design process possible.

    “As you talk through planning, everybody looks at things differently,” Robinette said. “So what the operations team may not see as an opportunity, we may pick up from a facility standpoint and be able to roll that efficiency forward to the project and vice versa.”

    “From an operation standpoint, they’re looking at it as you know, ‘hey, this is how I’m going to use this space. Let’s change this, let’s do this.’ And really taking that team approach, I think will both set us above what the standard for child care is.”

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    The Center for Early Learning will be available for both children of healthcare workers and everyone else in the local community.

    Doran said this center will create 21 new jobs. They hope to start hiring those employees in November.

    An interest form is already available for parents and guardians to fill out to join a waitlist. They hope to start registering children in November as well.

    Ballad Early Learning Centers are already located in Johnson City, Greeneville, Bristol, Tennessee and Lebanon, Virginia.

    In two weeks, a ribbon-cutting will be held for the early learning center in Norton, Virginia. Ballad leaders also said centers in Abingdon and Marion are now in development.

    The Kingsport Center for Early Learning is expected to open in early 2025.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WJHL | Tri-Cities News & Weather.

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