It all started when…
In 1981, the Northwest Arkansas community gathered to discuss a challenge: lack of adequate childcare services. The need for both parents to work and the needs of single parent households were on the rise, but early childhood options were not. Through the vision, financial support, and hard work of Mrs. Walton and other community leaders, the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center opened its doors on September 7, 1982.
Over time, demand for childcare in the region grew, and we realized that the most effective way to expand the impact was to help elevate the quality of care and education in all of Northwest Arkansas’s existing early childhood programs. Through the example and generosity of Helen R. Walton, this organization that bears her name began providing support to the early childhood businesses already caring for over 27,000 children in the region. We call this program the HighQ Ed Center.
When the program began in 2009, 19% of centers in Northwest Arkansas were quality accredited. Today, that number has increased to 69%, but we still have a long way to go to ensure every child receives the best chance at a bright future.