NEH moves to open child care center

BLAIRSBURG – Partnering with a Latimer daycare center, Northeast Hamilton is moving forward in establishing its own child care facility with a tentative opening date in mid-October.

On Tuesday, the district began taking enrollment applications for the center and advertised for the position of the care center director and its employees.

“Getting this child care facility is an important step toward our district’s sustainability and its ability to maintain employment in and around our communities,” said Northeast Hamilton Superintendent Larry Frakes.

There is a connection between having a local day care facility and maintaining school district enrollment.

Frakes explained that while many parents work outside the school district, there is no Blairsburg day care facility. So those parents are forced to take their children to the community where they work for child care, explained Frakes. As the children grow to school age, the parents opt to open enroll them in their work community school district rather than keep them in the NEH district.

“This is important to the district,” said Frakes. “Hopefully parents who work outside the district will drop off their children here and they will possibly stay to attend school in their home district”.

Last spring, the NEH school board purchased a vacated building that once housed a daycare center. Over the summer, the school district worked to meet State of Iowa Department of Human Services day care criteria. But during a state inspection in August, it was discovered the state had sent the wrong list of requirements to the district.

As the district began to bring the building up to code, it conceded that it would not be able to open a day care center on the opening day of the 2013-2014 school year.

In the meantime, the agreement with the director hired to own and operate the day care fell through.

Northeast Hamilton reached out to Cub Cadet Childhood Center in Latimer which has operated in conjunction with that school district for 12 years, said facility director Robin Kofoot.

Kofoot, with eight years of daycare experience, will help Northeast Hamilton hire and train day care staff for the next 5-6 months. The Latimer facility has a staff of seven employees and an enrollment of 40 children from the ages of infant to age 12.

In the last three years, the Latimer center has experienced a tremendous growth process fueled by substantial grant monies and donations, said Kofoot.

The Cub Cadet Childhood Center has built an indoor playground, remodeled the outdoor playground and constructed a Memory Garden in honor of its first board president Dave Colglazier, who died in a plane accident in 2009, said Kofoot.

The Cub Cadet Childhood Center is located on the Latimer school campus and is in partnership with the school, said Kofoot. The facility shares a preschool program, transportation services and meal service.

While the Latimer business will assist the NEH school in establishing its program, there will be differences in how the centers are operated, said Frakes.

Northeast Hamilton will own and manage the building, but it will not own the daycare business, said Frakes. The director will be the owner and will need to purchase the daycare items such as cribs, gates and appliances.

Center staff will not be employees of the district and the district will not provide meal service to the center.

“The director would have to purchase care center items because the district can’t use money from the general fund to purchase those items,” said Frakes.

The Northeast Hamilton Foundation has stepped up and offered to help purchase some of the necessary items such as beds and cots, said Frakes.

“There is a hope that donations will help supply the center with a washer and dryer, toys, food and bakeware, too,” he said.

Applications for day care enrollment and employment applications are available in the NEH Main Office.

The number of staff hired is dependent upon the number of children enrolled at the Blairsburg center and their ages, said Frakes. Offering infant care, the state mandated ratio is one caregiver to four infants. For ages 2-3 years, the caregiver to child ratio is 1:6. For ages three and older, the ratio is 1:8, he explained.

Daycare hours are tentatively 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, said Frakes.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work with Northeast Hamilton as they undertake a great venture for them in a small community,” said Kofoot.