“It’s been really exciting for me to finally be able to say yes when people call,” Lanesboro Child Care Center Director Heidi Brown said. Until the recent expansion of the center, she had to answer inquiries for childcare by telling them that she’d put them on the waiting list.
Before the daycare was expanded, it was licensed to care for 11 infants, 14 toddlers, 35 preschoolers, and 15 school age children. It is now licensed for up to 20 infants, 25 toddlers, 51 preschoolers, and 45 school age children.
In 2016, Brown realized that the number of children in the daycare program who were going into kindergarten meant that the 15 spots in the Kids’ Korner or school age program were not going to be sufficient. She met with Superintendent Schultz and worked with him and the school board to increase the licensed number to 45. “They were all very supportive of it,” she said. Currently, there are about 30 children from kindergarten through 12 years of age enrolled in Kids’ Korner.
It didn’t stop there though. With the waiting list for the rest of the daycare growing as well, Brown knew that it was time to expand the whole program.
Construction for the daycare expansion began in the second week of August, 2017. “We had a lot of really good people working on it,” Brown remarked. During the time the work was being done, the daycare remained open. That had its challenges, but the staff at the Lanesboro Child Care Center were ready for them. “The staff did very well making things work,” Brown said. “It was actually fun. It’s nice to be in our new homes though.” Closing the daycare was never an option. Brown and the staff agreed that it was important to continue to support the enrolled families with their child care needs.
Despite a few surprises during construction, the total costs of the expansion project when it was completed were on track with what had been anticipated.
On August 30, the center officially moved into its new rooms, just in time for the school year to start. “The transition went as well as can be expected,” Brown said. “The kids have all been very excited about the new spaces. We’re finding our new normal now.”
The expansion wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the daycare families as well. “They were incredible and extremely supportive of what we were trying to do,” Brown noted. “There’s no words to describe how much we appreciate it.”
The center’s expansion allowed the preschoolers to break up into more targeted groups. With three rooms available for the 3-5-year-olds, they were separated into 3/4 year olds and 4/5 year olds, which will allow the teachers to focus their curriculum better. The third room will be used when the others are full and with a large number of toddlers moving up to the preschool group, that will happen soon.
The new infant room includes three separate sleeping areas with cribs which allows for independent schedules. Brown noted that the staff cares for the babies based on their individual needs rather than being forced to be on the same schedule as each other. The staff in both the infant and toddler rooms work with each child and family to determine when they are ready to be moved up to the next group. “We’re a center, but we really like to give individualized care and focus on the needs of the child,” Brown pointed out.
Based on wait lists and expectant families, Brown anticipates that the infant, toddler, and, preschool rooms will come close to being filled to capacity by January 2018.
Kids’ Korner will continue to use the high school library for its after school program. “It works really well for us,” Brown said. “We’re not using the space during the day so there’s no sense in having a big empty space sitting there.” The child care center works closely with the Lanesboro school to share spaces and pool resources.
“It’s a privilege to serve the community and be a part of people’s families the way that we are,” Brown said.
Anyone interested in enrolling in the Lanesboro Child Care Center can contact Heidi Brown at (507) 467-2175.