Keene State gets $4.4M contract to help enhance child care statewide

Federally funded program to bolster availability of affordable child care in New Hampshire
Sentinelsource 2023 07 22t110023136

Photo by Hannah Schroeder, Keene Sentinel

The NH Executive Council has approved a $4.4 million contract with Keene State College for a statewide project to enhance the quality of child care, after-school and early-education programs.

Federal pandemic relief money will pay for this effort, which is aimed at boosting professional development for child care workers and educators. This is part of a $29 million federally funded program intended to bolster the availability of affordable child care in New Hampshire.

Parents have publicly complained about a child care shortage that became even more severe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Employers say this keeps many parents out of the workforce at a time when businesses are having trouble finding new employees.

There are 600 fewer child care workers in the state than before the pandemic, according to the NH Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau.

The Executive Council approved the two-year contract at its meeting Wednesday in Dover. Under its terms, Keene State’s Behavioral Health Improvement Institute will work with child care providers across New Hampshire.

Training, coaching and mentoring of child care workers will be supported in the program provided by the institute, which was established in 2019 and works on a number of projects funded by government agencies or other organizations. They include some involving the mental health of young people and families.

Megan Phillips, the campus director for this project, said the goal will be “to build capacity for continuous quality improvement and equitable access to high-quality early education and out-of-school time (after-school) programs in the state.”

“As an organization committed to supporting access to high-quality services and positive outcomes for children and their families, the Behavioral Health Improvement Institute at Keene State College is honored for this opportunity to contribute to the enhancement of the early child care system in New Hampshire,” she said in a written statement.

Karen E. Hebert, director of the NH Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Economic Stability, said that when the quality of child care improves, it helps providers as well as children and their families.

Professional assistance to child care workers through this project will include tuition assistance for training programs.

“The better we’re able to provide really quality education for staff the better the quality services will be for families, particularly along the areas of social and emotional learning for children.”

Under the new contract, the institute will also work to expand and improve an existing state program known as Granite Steps for Quality, which promotes improvements in early childhood education, and it will design and conduct a study to see how effective this program has been.

In one of the ways improvement is sought, providers can receive incentive grants by achieving a certain set of quality standards.

This article is being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit 

Categories: Education, Government, News