The new YMCA Child Care Center at the William Paca care in the county -- one that could be a big help to parents working in such parks, say operators of the center.

Parents using the new center may find its proximity to their offices will eliminate those out-of-the-way trips to day-care centers or to individual licensed day-care providers' homes.

And when children get sick, their parents can be with them in minutes.

The center is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to provide before- and after-school day care to students at William Paca-Old Post Road Elementary School, located across the street.

Rates are competitive. For example, it costs $78 to have a 2-year-old cared for at the YMCA center for five days.

The day-care center is the first in the county to be located in an industrial park. The aim of placing day-care centers in industrial parks is to attract parents working in area businesses.

Yet of the 24 children currently enrolled at the center, only one child has a parent who works at the industrial park, developed by James Knott Development, a Towson-based company.

Dennis Ditmer, district director of the YMCA of Greater Baltimore, said he believes the reason that more industrial park employees haven't taken advantage of the new resource is that the center did not open until Sept.


"People were already making plans for their day care by the time they heard about it," said Ditmer. "But we had to wait for the zoning process to be complete."

Until April, day-care centers were only allowed in areas zoned for agricultural or residential use.

A bill passed by the County Council last spring allows day-care centers as special exceptions in areas zoned for commercial-industrial, general industrial or office-research-industrial uses.

Special exceptions require a public hearing and approval by a zoning hearing examiner or by the council sitting as the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The examiner or the board can also impose restrictions for health and safety reasons.

After the bill passed in April, the YMCA was the first to apply for the exemption, which was granted.

"I think James Knott Development pretty much saw us as one of the lead operations; saw the center as an attracting force for businesses," Ditmer said. "It's a terrific benefit for employees. During lunch they can go have lunch with their child."

One mother, who works in the offices of Lord & Taylor at the industrial park, said one reason she chose the center for her 5-year-old son is that it is convenient.

"The school is right across the street. He comes right over from kindergarten," said the woman, who requested that her name not be used for privacy reasons.

"It saves an extra trip. You're right there in case anything happens, and you don't have to search for a personal baby sitter. I didn't know anybody, and the YMCA had a good reputation. And the fees were reasonable."

She said she has told fellow employees how much she likes the center, but noted that many parents already had other day-care arrangements.

Ditmer said the YMCA center at the industrial park will accept children of PIC clients as well as those of employees at the industrial park. PIC provides employment training for eligible residents of Harford and Cecil counties.

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