Collins Early Learning center receives support from Buncombe County for expanding services

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The Donald S. Collins Early Learning Center has received support from Buncombe County to provide more services for children such as nutrition, specialty learning and therapy inclusion.

The Donald S. Collins Early Learning Center in Black Mountain has received $321,700 from Buncombe County to support expanding services for more children.

“While this expansion will provide opportunities for new children, there remains a critical shortage of quality early care and education in the county," Collins Executive Director Monnie Wright said in a statement.

The Collins Early Learning Center provides a nurturing environment for early childhood students to learn, welcoming children of all ability levels. 

Specifically, the county grant money will fund hiring a cook to develop a nutritious food program focused on locally sourced foods. According to John Dewitt, the writer of the grant, this will help children's health and holistic development.

The funding will also be used to create a new pre-kindergarten class to serve both typically developing students as well as students with moderate to severe disabilities. 

The Donald S. Collins Early Learning Center is scheduled to open Aug. 24.

Finally, money will be used to offer the school use of the therapy room for students who attend therapy but aren't enrolled in the school and employ a full-time mental health counselor. Students in therapy will be given opportunities for social interaction with typically developing students and offered scholarships.

"These children are eligible for special services related to the their developmental delay," Dewitt wrote. "In addition to receiving the special related service, such as speech therapy, physical or occupational therapy, the child may enroll in the Child Care Center, as we will have available a special class or have the child in a regular class, where mainstreaming services will be available to assist the child."

County funding includes plans to continue mental health consulting and inclusion services. The center has specialists on staff to offer consultation for teachers and families to support the needs of the children.

"We are currently accepting enrollment applications for children of all ages for fall enrollment, and look forward to serving families of the Valley," Wright said. 

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.