After a non-profit daycare center was closed for six days, cofounders of the center decided to reopen and try to tough it out during hard financial times.
“We were always committed. We just got overwhelmed,” said Bonita Adams, a cofounder of Appalachian Early Child Development Center. “We still have a desire for the kids and that is the most important thing.”
On September 9, after examining bills and realizing so much less money was coming in, Adams and cofounder Faye Martin decided after 10 years of keeping the center going that it was time to close the center.
Adams had cited a tough economy, tightened guidelines for state assistance and an increase in payroll taxes for the reasons in closing.
After a week of rethinking their decision, Adams and Martin decided to give it another try and reopened the doors Sept. 17.
“We just got together and decided there is a need for what we do,” said Adams. “We’re just different.”
The center will basically start over because it stopped caring for infants and toddlers and will strictly operate as a preschool for children ages two and a half to five.
Rates at the center have been raised from $18 a day to $20 a day and parents will only be required to pay for days their children attend the center.
Adams, Martin and preschool teacher Teri Ratliff will be the only three employees for the time being. As of Monday, six children were enrolled at the center, which has a maximum capacity of 37.
“It’s just like when we started,” said Adams. “We started on Main Street with very few kids.”
Adams said a preschool class of 20 to 25 children would be ideal.
Appalachian Early Child Development Center opened in 2003 in the old Holstein Hardware building on Main Street in Whitesburg. In 2006, the center relocated to Circle Drive in a brick house formerly owned by the Ulis Hunsucker family with three acres of land. A 600 square-foot preschool classroom was added to the house in 2010 and a handicapped accessible bathroom was installed. The center received some financial assistance from U.S.D.A. Rural Development for the $100,000 classroom addition project.
Adams said fewer parents are qualifying for state assistance for childcare and that federal payroll tax that had been at 4.2 percent jumped to 6.2 percent.
The center was hurt severely by large cuts to Kentucky’s Child Care Assistance Program, which offered financial assistance for childcare to families with low incomes. Known as CCAP, the program quit offering money for childcare to low-income parents who worked or went to school. The program was administered by the state Department of Community Based Services, which is faced with an $86.6-million budget shortfall at the end of the current fiscal year.
This time around the center will add life skill classes for adults. Topics may include how to make costefficient laundry detergent, how to repair clothes or how to cook low cost meals, Adams said.
“We’re not quitters,” said Adams. “We won’t change our minds. We have a good program for kids.”