A ribbon-cutting for Jones College's new Resource and Referral Network Center was held on campus Thursday morning.

The Resource and Referral Network Center is part of Jones College's Early Childhood Education Technology Department. The center's mission is to provide technical assistance, professional development, and a lending library to child care providers and families to support a nurturing learning environment in the home and classroom that promotes healthy growth and learning for all children.

All services and resources are available for Jones College students free of charge.

"So much happens in a young child's brain early on," said Jones College Chief Academic and Financial Officer Rick Youngblood. "It is so critical that we capitalize on those formable years, and that is what this new center is about. In a perfect world, every kid entering kindergarten would be prepared socially and educationally, but sadly that's not true. So that is what this center is about, preparing kids both socially and educationally."

Gina Carr, Director of the Resource and Referral Network Center, said the project, which started in February 2019, has been close to her heart.

"This has been a work in progress," said Gina Carr. "I've put my heart into this, and like Rick [Youngblood] said, early childhood [development] is so important. So much happens in those [formable] years. And what we offer here is not just for the children but for the community and families. What you see behind us are resources available to the community. We provide everything for free."

The center is a 'one-stop-shop for families and childcare providers to obtain resources, including assisting families in finding and choosing childcare settings that meet their needs, accessing community resources, and providing resources like a lending library.'

“This could not have happened without our team coming together,” said Jones College President Dr. Jesse Smith. “Gina Carr has done such a great job [with this project]. We do believe that what we’re doing here is very special. Everything matters. What we are doing here is focused on education and our community.”

Resources available at the center include math and math manipulative, science and STEM kits, language and literacy kits, theme unit boxes, curriculum enhancement materials, sensory and tactile materials, special needs materials, dramatic play items, puzzles, puppets, children books, and resource books on parenting and curriculum development.

Items at the center available for use also include an Ellison Die-Cut machine, laminating, bulletin board paper, printing and copying, lactation room, and children's play area.

The Jones College Resource and Referral Center serves Clarke, Covington, Greene, Jasper, Jones, Smith, and Wayne County.

Member of the Mississippi House of Representatives Robin Robinson was on hand for the open house and ribbon-cutting.