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Senator Kaine secures federal funding for three Harrisonburg projects

Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine recently helped secure federal funding for three Harrisonburg projects in the Senate’s $1.3 trillion spending bill. WHSV spoke with Sen. Kaine about the funding for the projects and the needs they’ll help address.

“A million dollars for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Child Daycare Center. We’re just hearing reports all over the Commonwealth about the need for more affordable, high-quality childcare. It’s good for kids, good for parents, and good for the providers,” said Kaine, a Democrat who represents Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Kaine secured $1 million in federal funding for the child care center to help expand its capacity as it prepares to move into its new home on Federal Street later this year. He said that the need for more child care is great as many centers have struggled since COVID.

“During COVID, we did provide emergency funding to keep child care centers open, but a lot of child care centers had to invest more resources in equipment and material to keep kids safe,” he said. “A lot of child care centers had to reduce the number of children there. People had lost jobs during COVID, and so they pulled their kids out of childcare, they were home with them. Some centers closed or shrunk, and they’ve had a hard time building back up.”

Kaine said he hears about the need for more child care in every part of Virginia. He also has a personal connection to the field and understands the struggles that many child care centers and employees face.

“One of my three kids is an early childhood educator, so I kind of know it from his side as well. The salaries paid to child care workers, even though the work that’s done is so important, tend to be very low and that leads to a lot of turnover or people exiting the profession,” said Kaine.

Kaine said the funding for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Child Daycare Center will also help boost the local economy.

“This will help a lot of parents and a lot of educators, and it’s going to be good for the economy. People who are on the sidelines who really want to work, they have skills, they want to work and earn for their families, and if they can afford high-quality child care, they’re able to do it,” he said.

Another project Kaine secured $1 million for comes from James Madison University. The money will support a partnership between JMU, local schools, and local medical institutions that aim to increase diversity in health care professions.

“The populations are getting more diverse, more African-Americans, more Latinos for example, but the health care providers aren’t necessarily getting more diverse. That can mean that you have health care providers who don’t have the language fluency to be able to interact with their patients,” said Kaine.

Kaine said there are major workforce shortages in health care professions. He said bringing more diversity to the profession is key to meeting the needs of diverse patients. He noted that African-American mothers have a maternal mortality rate that is three times that of white mothers.

“Sometimes, the research has shown that African-American moms, as they’re describing challenges they’re having during pregnancy or in the year after delivery, their concerns and complaints and challenges are not given the credence by the providers that maybe Caucasian moms are,” he said.

Finally, Kaine was able to get $300,000 marked for the Northeast Neighborhood Association to renovate the interior of the Historic Dallard-Newman House in Harrisonburg. The home was built in 1885 by freed slaves Ambrose and Reuben Dallard.

“When you have an old house built in 1885, it needs some TLC, so this is a grant that’s going to be used for the capital improvement of this home; New insulation, HVAC, making it accessible to folks with disabilities so that all visitors can have this experience,” said Kaine.

Kaine said this renovation is something people in the Harrisonburg community have been advocating for over the last two years.

“It’s important to reclaim these old buildings and bring them back to life, and it’s important to tell stories of community leaders whose stories haven’t often been told,” he said.

The Dallard-Newman House will be opened to the public later this year or in early 2025 as the city’s first African-American History museum.