A new state-of-the-art early learning center in the Hough neighborhood is now open for approximately 140 three to five year olds enrolled in the state’s Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP).

“This is such a significant time in history for young children and families in Clark County and for ESD 112’s growing early learning programs,” said ESD 112 Superintendent Tim Merlino. “We are so proud to be part of the Hough Foundation’s dream of creating a child-centered facility to serve our community’s youngest learners,” he added.

The project began in fall 2014 when ESD 112 first received the news of a $1.1 million ECEAP grant from the Department of Early Learning to serve an additional 108 preschool children in Clark County. (The agency has since funded additional ECEAP slots to ESD 112 to provide learning programs for low income children in Southwest Washington.)

ESD 112 purchased the property from the Hough Foundation in July, 2014 for $150,000, and invested another $1.5 million in the renovation project. “We did as much as possible to preserve what was unique to the building,” said Merlino. The exposed wooden beams that were part of the pool were retained and water-themed tiles made years ago by Hough Elementary students grace the entryway.

Even with the opening of the new center, Clark County remains underserved when it comes to early learning. There are more than 2,100 local eligible children going unserved. “We will continue to work hard to secure more funding and resources for early learning in our region,” Merlino promised.

The video tour at the top of this article is courtesy of Vancouver Public Schools.