KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new Head Start preschool facility just opened up in Western Heights after construction began in September 2021.

The community has seen a lot of growth and a growing need for childcare. Knoxville‘s Community Development Corporation partnered with Head Start and the Community Action Committee to build the facility after local teachers and parents shared that it was needed.

The new facility has six preschool classrooms and four infant and toddler rooms. Head Start will be able to provide comprehensive preschool programs for 130 kids ages zero to 5 for free to make sure East Tennessee kids are prepared when they head off to kindergarten.

“Teachers continued to voice that there were some students ready to learn from day one – others maybe because of some disadvantages or circumstantial stuff didn’t have access to the resources, this is just us trying to offer the community additional opportunities for families and children to thrive,” KCDC CEO Ben Bently said.

“I think having Head Start centrally located right here in Western Heights brings that needed early childhood education element in and also some support for our families who are going to work who need a safe space for their children to be and we can be that safe space as well,” said Renee Hauge, director of Knoxville Head Start.

This Head Start facility officially opened Tuesday, Oct. 18.

EDITORS NOTE: This story has been updated to show that although HUD grants are helping fund the broader initiative, they were not used in the construction of the building.