CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — SUNY Canton will receive $2.3 million for a new on-campus childcare center, according to a press release from the college. The funding is part of a $15.6 million state investment for SUNY and CUNY colleges to expand child care access, announced by Governor Hochul.

SUNY Canton is in the beginning phases of planning the new center on campus that would serve between 50 and 70 children of faculty and staff, local families and SUNY Canton students.

The college said the new center will follow the its commitment to establishing more child care options in the area, helping to alleviate the strain on local families. SUNY has a long-term goal of having a child care facility at every campus.

“This is a first critical step in the process of building the new facility, and we thank SUNY and Governor Hochul for their support in this important endeavor,” SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran said. “We will be working to secure the rest of the funds needed for this $8 million project over the next year in an effort to make this happen as quickly as possible.”

The college plans to partner with The Arc Jefferson – St. Lawrence to staff and run the center once construction is complete. The organization wants to provide more assistance for St. Lawrence County families, some of whom travel to Watertown for early intervention services.

“We’ve been working with SUNY Canton over the past several years to explore partnership opportunities,” said Lynn M. Pietroski, Chief Operating Officer of The Arc Jefferson – St. Lawrence. “This helps address the need for child care and services. The college has so many applicable degrees that we thought it would be a wonderful fit.”

Professor Maureen P. Maiocco, Ed.D. said SUNY Canton’s two-year Early Childhood program and four-year Early Childhood Care and Management program make the college an ideal environment for the new center.

“An on-campus child care center will provide an educational setting for SUNY Canton early childhood undergraduates. Internships, teacher preparation, and applied learning opportunities will be a part of the mission of the Center. The Center will include 2-3 observation rooms adjacent to designated classrooms for the purposes of undergraduate child development study and research,” Maiocco said.

Early plans for the center include Early Childhood program offices and a child study lab to allow students to get practical, hands-on experience. The college said the plans also include opportunities for students from programs like Business, Management, Physical Therapist Assistant and Applied Psychology programs, among others.

A team was created earlier this year to develop a plan to create 10 to 15 new licensed providers, which would establish 60 to 120 new slots for children. The team includes members of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Authority, St. Lawrence Child Care Council, St. Lawrence County Workforce Development Board, New York Power Authority, SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center and the college’s Early Childhood program.

“Expanding high-quality, affordable child care options is an essential piece of creating a more equitable and accessible higher education system for New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “My administration remains committed to ensuring all parents have access to quality child care, and this funding is a critical step toward ensuring parents have the support they need to pursue a quality education and build a better future for themselves and their families.”

With $200,000 in American Rescue Plant Act grant funding provided by the county legislature, t college said the team is offering a Family Child Care Training Program at no cost to individuals who wish to establish home-based licensed family child care businesses.