Delayed by COVID, two new child care centers to open in October
Two new early childcare facilities are opening this month after being delayed by the pandemic.
The first to open will be Sycamore Tree Child Care Center, part of Mission City Church, located at 3092 Cold River Road in Rutland Town, on Monday. The second is Rekaroo’s Minis, opening Oct. 26 in the Howe Center in Rutland City.
“It started before the pandemic came,” said Jake Stamey, next generation director at Mission City Church, who will become the licensed director of Sycamore Tree Child Care Center once it’s up and running. “When we began it was in January. We were looking, as Mission City Church, we were trying to figure out what would be a good way to serve the community and meet a need. A couple things came up, one was a coffee shop but the big one was a child care center.”
Stamey said the facility will be allowed to take children from 6 months old to kindergarten. State licensing officials were easy and helpful to work with, he said, as was Let’s Grow Kids, which offered advice and a grant.
Stamey said when he moved to this area a few years ago, he found it hard to find child care and so is aware of the need. Sycamore will be able to take 40 children, but the plan now is to work its way up to 25 and see how things progress. An open house was held Sunday, said Stamey, where several families were shown the facility and made verbal commitments to sign up.
Between state regulators adjusting to remote work, parents unsure about what to do with their children, and it generally being hard to find workers, the pandemic delayed the church’s plans by about two months, Stamey said.
“We have about seven people on board right now and when we’re at full capacity we’ll have anywhere from 10 to 15 employees,” he said.
The church has an all-natural playground area, but it also has a large indoor space, something Stamey said many child care centers lack.
“It’s a Christian-based child care center and our values are centered on what’s called the fruits of the spirit, which is from the Bible, and that’s teaching values such as joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, so the values are centered around those Christian values,” he said. The center is also highly play-based, which is where the outdoor playground and indoor area come in.
The opening of Rekaroo’s Minis was likewise delayed by the pandemic, said Amber Foehl, Rekaroo’s Minis soon-to-be director. She currently works at Rekaroo’s Childcare. Both businesses are owned by Tereka Hand.
Foehl said Minis was conceived in September of last year because the wait list for children between six weeks and two years at the original Rekaroo’s tended to be long. Rekaroo’s holds about 80 children, Minis is permitted for 36.
“We got in there, did a lot of remodeling, a lot of repainting, really just to freshen it up,” she said, adding that there’s a playground area nearby that previous child care operations in the space didn’t make use of.
“We were actually getting ready to open up right as COVID hit,” she said, adding that interest was high as early child care was in high demand, but the pandemic slowed everything. “Parents were really afraid to bring their children to school and a lot of people were not looking for jobs in March because of COVID.”
Both centers said they take all coronavirus precautions required by state health officials.
by Keith Whitcomb