CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Early Learning Academy is now open at the state Capitol.

A grand opening ceremony was held Wednesday at the facility located at 2100 Washington Street East. It was recently remodeled to provide child care services and instructional learning to infants and young children of state employees.

“I want parents to know that there’s a facility here at the state Capitol Complex that’s safe and not only safe, but focuses on developmental stages of children,” said Tamra Protan, owner of Discovery Kingdom. Protan now administers the facility after taking it over from Kanawha County Schools in December.

Protan welcomed First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin and other community leaders to tour the classrooms following the ceremony.

“It’s beautiful. It’s colorful. It has so many great items and learning tools for children. I’ve watched children even playing on them today,” the First Lady said. “A place like this is so important to our state employees, as well as others, to be able to have a place to bring their children while they’re working and they can feel comfortable that they’re being taken care of and that they’re in a great environment.”

Services are for young children including infants, Protan said.

“It’s not just for Pre-K. We have infant care,” she said. “We focus on creative curriculum, so all the classrooms are set up to where each center has a purpose for developments.”

Protan said the brain has already developed for children under the age of five, so it’s important to educate infants as early as six weeks old.

“Our infants do sensory development. We want them touching things with their feet and their fingers, experiencing all the sensory,” she said.

The First Lady has been a major advocate for children in West Virginia during her time in office. Wednesday was her final event she participated in as First Lady.

“It’s always bittersweet. We’ve enjoyed our time here. It’s been a wonderful journey for both the Governor and I,” she said. “We have appreciated everyone and everything who have helped us and supported us for many, many years.”

The state Department of Administration provides and maintains the location for the facility.

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