ARMONA — In an effort to expand into a community where it didn’t previously have services, Kings Community Action Organization has purchased a child development center in Armona.
KCAO began operating the newly named Armona Learning Center, located at 13835 Lyn St., in April. The organization purchased the child development center, formerly called Edukids Preschool, in January.
Jeff Garner, executive director of KCAO, said the agency is always on the lookout to broaden the landscape of its services in the county, so the organization jumped at the opportunity to buy the building when it became aware of the sale.
“We fell in love with the location,” Garner said. “We felt it fit with our mission and was an important step for the agency.”
Garner said KCAO approached the previous owners and worked out the details of buying the building. Everything worked out and Garner said it was the “perfect situation” not only for the organization, but for staff and local families
The licensed facility holds two classrooms with restrooms, a kitchen, a space for staff and a spacious play area. One good thing was that most of the items in the building are relatively new, Garner said, so KCAO didn’t have to make too many improvements.
The Armona Learning Center is a year-round site and currently has 69 children, Garner said.
The center provides full-day child development services on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for 23 children, and part day services on weekdays either in the morning session or afternoon session for 46 children.
The full-day program is for children whose parent or parents work full time, while the part-day programs are for children whose parents’ work day is a little more flexible. Garner said the programs were made this way to best serve all different types of family situations.
Briana Whitten, the assistant site supervisor at Preston Green Learning Center, is currently overseeing the Armona Learning Center while its site supervisor, Teresa Avila, is on vacation.
Whitten said the center, which is still in the process of transitioning from Edukids to the Armona Learning Center, still has room left in the full-day program for more students.
Besides living in Kings County, Garner said there are certain measures to determine whether the child can attend the Armona Learning Center, including family income and other needs.
Even if a child doesn’t qualify for the Armona Learning Center, Garner encourages parents to visit or call the KCAO office to see if they are eligible for one of the agency’s other programs.
The Armona Learning Center joins the 13 other early care and education centers operated by KCAO throughout Kings County. Garner said the program is funded by the California Department of Education’s State Preschool Program.
Now, KCAO has either an early care or education center in the communities of Armona, Avenal, Kettleman City, Corcoran, Hanford and Lemoore.
KCAO has provided early education services to children and families for over five decades and currently serves over 1,500 children annually through the Head Start and child development programs.