Large day care, EKU Danville both closed this year

Published 12:38 pm Monday, December 24, 2018

Boyle County saw two big closures in 2018 — A Children’s Place day care center and Eastern Kentucky University’s Boyle County campus. The closures impacted many people and caused many to worry about the future.

A Children’s Place

On March 9, Ephraim McDowell Health announced it was closing its A Children’s Place day care center at the end of May, leaving parents of about 135 children without child care and possibly 28 employees without jobs. It was the largest day care center in Boyle County.

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EMH later announced it would keep A Children’s Place open longer to give families more time to find alternatives for child care; the day care center closed in August.

EMH Vice President Keith Bridges said closing the childcare facility had been discussed for at least the past 10 years.

“We’re getting out of the daycare business,” Bridges said, adding that it was a difficult decision to make.

In a letter sent to parents of children enrolled at the daycare center, EMH stated that the organization was going to keep its focus on health care for the community.

According to Bridges, EMH took over running the child care facility nearly 30 years ago, which had been started to help local industry workers with child care needs on all shifts seven days a week.

However, recent years saw a decline in enrollment, which had at one time been 200 children and now was 135 children only 12 hours a day, five days a week.

Ellen Swanson, a math professor at Centre College said, “I have no idea what I’m going to do. Danville is in desperate need of more child care options. Every place (including A Children’s Place) constantly has a waiting list.”

Swanson added, “Working families already struggle to balance all of the demands. But adding the substantial stress of the uncertainty of where the kids will be all day and who will care for them, or even if a parent can take that necessary job because of child care restraints, is not the situation this town wants to be in.”

Danville Mayor Mike Perros said the closure creates “a large hole in our economic fabric. …

We’ve got to have something in that space in order to keep our workforce,” Perros said. “I guess really, we have to throw this back to our Economic Development Partnership — not that this is their responsibility to solve, but it’s a place to have a broad-based conversation … We’re going to have to put our thinking caps on pretty quick, because that affects a lot of folks.”

In response to ACP closing, community members from businesses and backgrounds joined forces to try and quickly find stable short-term and figure out long-term solutions for child care options.

In August, just as ACP prepared to close at the end of the month, Gospel Garden Learning Center announced plans to open its day care facility, which would initially be able to provide care for up to 29 children ages six weeks to 5 years old.

Multiple child care businesses are considering opening or expanding in Boyle County, but finding the right facilities at an affordable price has been a major obstacle, according to members of the EDP.

Eastern Kentucky University

File photo
In March, Mersadies Hasul, left and Courtney Griffieth stand in the front office of Eastern Kentucky University in Danville, after learning of the school’s closure plans.

On March 22, 2018, Eastern Kentucky University sent an email to all of its Danville campus students informing them that the college would be closing on May 11, the last day of finals.

“The closure was due to “ongoing budget reductions,” according to a news release issued by EKU.

Within a few minutes of reading the email, local EKU students began coming into the office located at Danville Manor Shopping Center to try and figure out what to do next so they could continue earning a degree.

“These are serious students,” said Cindy Peck, central region director at EKU’s Danville campus shortly after the announcement. “They’re serious about their education.”

“They are young adults. What they are looking for in the student experience is very different from someone who wants to go to football games on a main campus on Saturdays and partake in all that social activity, which is fine,” Peck said. “But our students are just at a different place. Some of our students already have a young family. They may have parents or grandparents they’re taking care of in addition to having a job. They just seek a different student experience. It’s not subpar at all. It’s just a different focus.”

Peck said she is a graduate of EKU and has worked for the school for 23 years. “I know these students. Many of them won’t be able to drive to the Richmond campus. Many of them will just stop, and those are students I’m really super worried about.”