A new child care program opened in Owosso last week to help support the local healthcare workforce.
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Memorial Healthcare opened the Memorial Childcare Academy at 1488 N. M-52 in Owosso on Aug. 14th. Academy Executive Director Adam Grass said the need for a child care program for the local healthcare workforce was apparent during a recent meeting for hospital staff there.
“It was a meeting for hospital staff to see what their response would be to a project like this. We had many parents who were looking for child care options stop by. We had between 80 and 100 people sign up for services within an hour of holding that meeting.”
Grass has experience establishing a variety of child care centers. While the inspiration for the academy came from hospital staff, it will be open to the public as well.
A recent Council for a Strong America report showed that 44 percent of Michiganders live in an area where there are at least three times as many children as licensed child care slots available.
The academy acquired $250,000 in state and local funding for its 20,000-square-foot facility, which has the ability to host 130 children, ranging from infants to 12-year-olds, for full- and part-time care. Grass said approximately 100 kids were there on opening day.
“For the next month, I have new families starting every Monday,” he said. “We’re phasing them in. I didn’t want to have them all come in at once.”
The academy was developed in partnership with Heritage Hollow, which has been a child care provider in Shiawassee County for more than 20 years. Its spacious rooms are designed for optimal learning, and teachers there have acquired bachelor’s or master’s degrees in early childhood curriculum.
“It’s not just a babysitting area. All of our classrooms have a curriculum. We also do (Great Start Readiness Program) which we will launch in the next couple weeks. We have a registered nurse on staff that can come down and check kids to make sure they’re all right if they have allergic reactions or get sick. We have the presence of Memorial police here during heavy traffic times. It’s a unique setup. It’s unlike anything else we’ve done.”
The academy offers low child-to-teacher ratios and offers meals planned by registered dietitians.
“Dietitians prepare all their meals,” Grass said. “And it’s great food; the kids love it.”
Grass plans to launch an after-school program at the academy this week as well. It will offer numerous engaging activities for youngsters.
“We figured they’ve been in an institutional environment for the last eight hours, so it’s going to be a laid-back atmosphere,” he said. “We have stuff to keep them physically active, and we have a playground out back.”