BETHEL — Community Concepts’ plan to open a new childcare and early learning center in Bethel as a collaborative effort with Maine School Administrative District 44 has expanded to include an additional classroom. If a pending application for further funding is approved by the Office of Head Start, the combination childcare and Head Start center will hold 3 classrooms with capacity to serve a total of 40 children.

“We recognize that there is a great need for childcare in the Bethel area and are excited to be working in close collaboration with SAD 44 on a solution,” shared Kim Bessette, Director of Children’s Services at Community Concepts. “While we are still working to secure all necessary funding for this project, we are hopeful to open the center in Spring 2024.”

Dave Murphy, a representative for SAD 44, stated, “This joint effort will provide our community with important and necessary support for area families. The benefits of having the availability of quality early learning opportunities are many and the knowledge and background that Community Concepts brings to this project will help ensure that this will be the case for the children enrolled in it. SAD 44’s fundraising efforts will contribute to this collaboration by helping to support the utility costs associated with the new center in the coming years.”

Community Concepts is currently finalizing a contract on a parcel of property for the center on Route 2 heading toward Gilead. Construction of the new building is set to begin as soon as the purchase is complete, and all funding has been secured. As plans stand, along with the 3 classrooms, the building will hold a food service area and management office. Programming is slated for families with children from birth to age 5. An exact opening date is subject to funding approval and construction timetables.

“Community Concepts has a longstanding and strong connection to the Bethel community,” Bessette explained. “Prior to our current Pre-K collaboration with SAD 44 at Crescent Park School, Community Concepts served families at the West Bethel Children’s Center on the Flat Road for roughly 40 years. We are always looking at how best to serve our communities, and working with the district, we’ve identified that a childcare-focused center is what is now needed most.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with SAD 44 on this initiative in Bethel,” shared Jim Martin, CEO of Community Concepts. “Each day in our Head Start classrooms across Oxford and Franklin Counties, we see the importance of affordable, high-quality childcare and early education not only in helping prepare young children for school, but also in supporting stability for the entire family.”

Community Concepts expects to hear final word on its funding request to the Office of Head Start within the next few weeks.

“We’ve received calls from several families inquiring about applying for the new center, but we are not quite ready to begin taking applications,” Bessette shared. “We will continue to update the community as plans unfold, and as soon as full funding is secured, we will share an opening date for applications.”

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