By Natalie Broda; Jun 22, 2020

Grace Centers of Hope has reopened its Hands of Hope Child Care Center in Pontiac after a $1.2 million renovation and move.

Doubling its classroom size from four to seven, the facility will be able to accommodate 76 children whose parents or caregivers are working through Grace Centers’ addiction and homelessness recovery programs.

Saundra Harris, Hands of Hope's lead pre-kindergarten teacher, works with a child are the center. 

Saundra Harris, Hands of Hope’s lead pre-kindergarten teacher, works with a child are the center.

“With so many families still facing homelessness and battling addiction, demand for our services continues to grow. Fortunately, people are coming to us and wanting help,” Pastor Kent Clark, CEO of Grace Centers of Hope, said. “We must have a space for their kids to go while parents attend classes and get counseling, and this significant expansion of our child care center makes that possible for many more families.”

The 6,375 square-foot center serves families with newborns and kids up to 12-years-old. Traci Cunningham, children’s program director, said it’s meant to be a safe space for the children to work on academics, social and emotional skills as well as take the occasional field trip.

Traci Cunningham, children’s program director, pictured at the new center in Pontiac.

Traci Cunningham, children’s program director, pictured at the new center in Pontiac.

“We teach foundational skills they’ll need as they go into school and become adults. These kids come from such a traumatic background, so we help them learn how to handle their emotions and feelings. Until they can deal with the trauma, they cannot do the academic portion,” Cunningham said.

The space features classrooms across two floors of the building, a multipurpose room for recreational and motor skills activities, upgraded security and a new playground that’s three-times larger than the center’s previous play area.

“A lot of kids have been abused, and don’t know how to make a trusting relationship. We really work on that,” Cunningham said. “Even at five years old, some have seen more than I’ve

“A lot of kids have been abused, and don’t know how to make a trusting relationship. We really work on that,” Cunningham said. “Even at five years old, some have seen more than I’ve been exposed to in my entire life. We help them heal from the inside out.”

A new playground for the kids at the Grace Centers of Hope child care center.

A new playground for the kids at the Grace Centers of Hope child care center.

Five new employees will be hired at the child care center bringing the total to 15.

Inside the Hands of Hope Child Care Center in Pontiac.

Inside the Hands of Hope Child Care Center in Pontiac.

The former Hands of Hope Child Care Center located at 18 E. Pike St. was sold to the owners of Erebus Haunted Attraction in downtown Pontiac.