New learning center in Moneta provides before- and after-school care due to high demand


BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Education experts say young kids were hit the hardest by the pandemic, experiencing learning loss and losing that social time in school.

Staff members at Heavenly Hands Early Learning Center — which just opened a location in downtown Moneta — say they want to help these young children.

“Math is the biggest struggle for them and they’re not feeling confident is what I’m seeing,” said the director of Heavenly Hands, Laura Watlington.

According to Watlington, even their brightest students are having trouble making the switch from screens to classrooms.

One example Watlington gives is a straight-A student who was bringing home C’s, D’s, and F’s at the beginning of the school year.

“The parents are reaching out,” said Watlington. “They do want to go back to work and one other stop is childcare, so we’re trying to help be part of the solution.”

Paul Liston is a father who sends his nearly three-year-old son to Heavenly Hands’ other location in Lynchburg. He says the extra care while he and his wife are at work helps his kid stay ahead of the curve.

(Photo: Amanda Lee/WFXR News)

“His daycare was still open so he was still able to learn and read and do arts and crafts,” said Liston. “Instead of teaching the kids how to read and doing story time, Bible time, and arts and crafts, they also go over Spanish with them, they go over sign language with them.”

Heavenly Hands held a soft opening on Monday, Oct. 18, but plans to bring local parents back for a grand opening and open house in November.

Watlington says a local survey found that more than 120 parents in the area were interested in before- and after-school care.

The new facility can take in 80 to 90 students.

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