New child care center pitched for Court Street

MIDDLEBURY — A mother-daughter team is proposing to open a new child care center at 111 Court St. that could accommodate up to 45 children and employ up to 10 care-givers.
The “Middlebury Family Center” is being proposed by Kathleen and Katey LaFayette. Folks in the Bristol area might recall Kathleen LaFayette as the longtime owner-operator of the Playful Learning Kids’ Place off Burpee Road. She has a bachelor’s degree in early education and is also a former educator at the Lincoln Community School and was director of the Acorn Child Care Center in Shelburne.
LaFayette recently moved to Middlebury, where she wants to continue her role as a child care provider. Her daughter Katey is joining her in the venture. The duo took a look at available buildings and quickly found what they were looking for in 111 Court St., located next to Lightning Photo and close to the People’s United Bank and Middlebury South Village.
“That building jumped out at us,” Kathleen LaFayette said of the spot, which had previously served office and retail functions.
The building has 4,200 total square feet and was recently listed for sale at $850,000. The LaFayettes plan to lease the space and upgrade the building with, among other things, a fire alarm system and a fenced-in play yard at the south side of the structure, oriented away from Court Street.
“We won’t have to do too much to the building,” LaFayette said. “It is nice and clean.”
The property’s parking lot can accommodate 20 vehicles, according to a project narrative on file in town offices.
LaFayette hopes to open the business by July 1, contingent on the building improvements and securing state and local permits.
If it receives a green light, the Middlebury Family Center will function as a for-profit business, though it promises to offer “flexible rates” according to clients’ ability to pay, according to LaFayette. She added the center will also be affiliated with the state’s child care subsidy program.
Middlebury Family Center will serve children ages six months to school age — a demographic for which there continues to be a shortage of child care services, according to local providers.
The Addison County Parent-Child Center’s 46 slots for children newborns to age 3 are full, according to the organization’s program coordinator, Becky Bertrand. Six of those slots will be opening up in the fall, but the demand is around 12, Bertrand said.
“There is a huge demand for more child care spots in the county and the state,” Bertrand said, adding the prospect of a new center coming into town is “good news.”
Plans call for the Middlebury Family Center to be open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with the potential for a 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift if clients’ work schedules warrant such hours, according to LaFayette.
She described a curriculum that will focus on “hands-on learning, with a lot of nurturing at the infant stage.”
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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