It isn’t necessary to have small children to realize how severe the shortage of Daycare space is in Northern Michigan. There have been plenty of news articles over the past several years testifying to this critical issue. However, among the gloom is an emerging ray of hope in the Grayling area.
The Crawford AuSable Daycare and Preschool (CADC) has been the leading daycare provider in Grayling for forty years, operating as a non-profit and serving approximately 40 children daily with a current total enrollment of 62 children. Even so, our center has a waiting list of around 100 children reaching out more than three years.
In a somewhat unique arrangement, we are working with Mt. Hope Lutheran Church of Grayling to help alleviate some of this wait list. On August 4th 2019, surrounded by Mt. Hope Congregation members and CADC families, Pastor Joe Polzin and Congregation Chairman Ken Bendick along with CADC Executive Director Salena Laskowski and Board Chair Tracy Wilson broke ground on a brand new state of the art, purpose-built 8,400 square foot Day Care building to be built by Mt. Hope and leased at a reduced cost to CADC. The new building should enable us to essentially double our capacity when we move into the new building projected for April of 2020.
Our current building was a former Sportsman’s Club and was never designed to be a childcare center. There are many things that make our daily operation more difficult than it needs to be. It only has 2 rooms that are acceptable to license for childcare through the State of Michigan. This limits us significantly on the number of children we can serve on a daily basis. The front main room is used for all day childcare and preschool in the mornings. The back room is used only in the mornings for preschool and by our big kids Latch Key program in the afternoons and on no school days.
Our new center is designed specifically to be used for childcare. The layout and design will:
● make daily operations more functional and easier for staff and children.
● include a 2400 square foot covered pavilion that will allow children to be outdoors and physically active even in inclement (shade from the sun, shelter from rain) weather.
● create a multipurpose room that doubles as a kitchen with eating spaces large enough to comfortably fit each of the different programs.
● add an Infant & Toddler program with the capacity of 12 children aged 12 weeks to 2 ½ years of age.
● expand the 3 Year Old program to 16 children (we currently have 8 enrolled).
● expand the 4 Year Old program to 24 children (we currently have 18 enrolled).
● give the school aged program its own, age-appropriate room that will be licensed for 18.
One thing brought CADC and Mt. Hope together – and that is a love for our community and the families in it. CADC will continue to operate as a secular school maintaining the highest standards possible in their new home without interference from the church. CADC strives to maintain a safe, loving and educational environment for children of working families. For its part, Mt. Hope will do whatever it can to support CADC in this mission, motivated by the longstanding Christian principle of caring for its neighbors. Mt. Hope recognized the critical need for daycare in Crawford County several years ago and has worked ever since to find the optimal way to aid the community, finally arriving at this new collaborative effort with CADC.
Mt. Hope holds the mortgage of approximately $450,000.00 (having brought in member donations amounting to over $300,000.00 by various donors). CADC will lease the building in an amount that covers only the mortgage and building maintenance. Mt. Hope will not charge CADC additional fees to make a profit, so as the mortgage is paid down CADC will see a decrease in the monthly lease costs until eventually the mortgage is paid off and the only remaining lease cost will be for building maintenance.
There are many benefits to CADC and all our families as we continue to offer child care and preschool programs with a decrease in our lease payments. Being nonprofit, all of our current childcare and preschool rates or tuition are based on the cost it takes to operate the center. Having a lower monthly lease, or no monthly lease, will offer families a more affordable payment rate. This also allows for more of our funds to be used directly in the classrooms for field trips, purchase educational supplies and materials, and much more.