Help sought to save Middlebury child center

MIDDLEBURY — Two local nonprofits and an area resident are working feverishly to try to save a highly rated Middlebury childcare center that was scheduled to close its doors at the end of June.
At issue is the 15-slot Vermont Adult Learning (VAL) childcare center located in Middlebury’s Community Services Building on Boardman Street. The center is set to close on June 28 due to the loss of some key grant funding. The service was created in 2000 for families of VAL clients as a convenient place to leave their children while studying toward a degree to lead to better employment. As years went by, the community at large increasingly used those 15 slots, many of which have been assigned to children requiring some extra help.
The center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has a top rating from Vermont’s Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS), which acknowledges childcare programs that go beyond state standards in delivering quality childcare services to kids and their families.
Officials were reluctantly resigned to having to close the facility due to financial reasons. But Middlebury resident Rich Hennessey, a child psychologist who has worked in the field of early education, has come forward with an idea he hopes can save the center: Asking people who can afford it to sponsor a child for a year.
Jeanne Montross is executive director of Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE), which owns and manages the Community Services Building in which the childcare center rents space. She estimated it will take $44,000 to bridge the financial gap needed to give the service a one-year reprieve in which the Parent-Child Center of Addison County — which would take over operation of the service — could seek new grant sources to stabilize it for the long-term.
Plans call for the childcare slots to be reduced from the current 15 to 12. With that in mind, organizers will be looking for 12 sponsorships of around $4,000 apiece to help float the center for the coming year.
Montross said she and other organizers need to move quickly to see if there is enough support to save the center. Anyone who thinks they can help should contact Montross at 388-3608, the Parent-Child Center at 399-3171, or Hennessey at 388-7076.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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