December brought new quarters and glad tidings for the nonprofit Carroll Child Care Centers Inc., after months of uncertainty about the planned move and expanded service.
Staff, board members and volunteers moved the center to a new building in Carroll Commerce Center after almost 30 years of being housed in Westminster churches.
It received a $50,884 grant from state and federal funds to provide child care for low-income families.
It expanded its program to include infants and toddlers.
Joyce Wendl, executive director of the corporation, said the city's pioneer child-care center had been operating since 1969 for children age 2 through kindergarten -- with its facilities divided between two downtown churches.
"We closed those two centers and added the program for children under 2," she said. "Things are happening."
After several months of delay, she said, the pieces fell into place for the move to the new center, off Route 97 at 711-A Corporate Center Court.
Capacity has been increased from 78 to 105 children, she said, and the program now will accept children ages 6 weeks to 2 years.
The center serves all income levels on a sliding scale.
"We're getting calls every day," Wendl said. Where the program used to have waiting lists, space is now available, especially in the infant and toddler program.
The center had been split "upstairs and downstairs" and between Westminster Church of the Brethren, at Park and Bond streets, and St. Paul's United Church of Christ at Bond and Green streets.
The organization couldn't expand there, Wendl said, because the facilities had no sprinkler system and could not meet new regulations.
"Now, all our staff are in one building, so it's much more efficient," she said.
The children's favorite part of the move appears to be the food made possible by having a kitchen, she said.
rTC "Now we have on-site meals that we weren't able to do in the churches, and the kids are loving it and eating much better than they ever did before. It's the nature of prepackaged food -- this is so much better and more appetizing."
Once the board agreed to build a center, it began raising about $200,000. "We're about three-quarters of the way there," assisted by $30,000 for equipment from the United Way, Wendl said.
"We needed cribs, little changing tables, things like that, because we never had an under-2-year-old program before."
To save money, the organization leased the shell of a building and put in plumbing, walls and ceilings.
"We built the playground ourselves," Wendl said. "We've had a lot of help all along the line."
The volunteers started moving in the weekend of Dec. 5, and the center plans an opening ceremony Jan. 30.
The $50,884 grant for low-income child care will provide "a new program for us," Wendl said. The state and federal Child Care and Development Block Grant will pay operating costs to allow the center to serve low-income families who don't qualify for assistance because they are above the eligibility requirements but can't afford the fees.
"Our mission has always been to serve the community regardless of income," Wendl said.
"But even at the bottom of the scale, there were some families who couldn't afford it -- making too much money to qualify for purchase-of-care -- especially if there is more than one child."
The grant, issued through the Maryland Department of Human Resources' Child Care Administration and the Bridge to Independence program, will be used to help cover the costs of providing child care for those families, she said.
"People coming off welfare to jobs at $6 or $7 an hour can't afford child care. Our intent is to help these families, so they can afford quality child care while they work," Wendl said. "Especially a single parent may have a very difficult time trying to meet living expenses and provide quality child care."
The center staff also works with other agencies, if needed, such as the departments of Social Services and Health, she said.
"We say you don't just 'watch' the children. They need to be stimulated, they love to learn, and they are getting a much better start by the time they enter kindergarten."
Carroll Child Care Centers Inc. also has a center at Taneytown's Grace United Church of Christ, serving 20 children.
Pub Date: 12/22/97