Child Care Network planning $1.4 million center in downtown Seymour


It’s no secret there aren’t enough child care options for working families in Seymour.

Parents struggle to find qualified, reliable and affordable places with openings to leave their children for eight to 12 hour shifts.

The situation forces parents to miss work and in many instances leads to a parent losing their job or quitting to stay home.

Kate Garrity, executive director of Child Care Network, said her office receives an average of 3-5 calls daily from parents searching for child care.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

"With our name being Child Care Network, people think that we provide child care," she said.

That’s why the non-profit agency is pushing forward with a plan to open a licensed child care center in downtown Seymour.

Child Care Network is currently in the process of purchasing a building to renovate into a 10-classroom child care center to provide 122 openings for children ages six weeks to five years old.

The project is estimated to cost $1.4 million.

With support from the Community Foundation of Jackson County, Child Care Network is applying for a $1.8 million large-scale grant through a private foundation. The deadline to apply is August 28.

If successful in obtaining the grant, Garrity said she hopes to have the center open next spring.

"If we don’t get the funding, we’re still committed to opening a child care center," she said. "We would have to phase out the construction and it would take longer." 

In addition to startup costs, the agency also is raising sustainability funds.

Last week, Dan Davis, president of the Community Foundation of Jackson County, joined Garrity to request $50,000 from the Seymour Redevelopment Commission. That funding, if approved, would be spread out over a three year period.

A public hearing for the request is scheduled for 4 p.m today in council chambers at Seymour City Hall, 301 N. Chestnut St. Anyone interested in speaking in favor of or against the proposed financing is welcome to attend.

"The idea of a community child care center has been around for decades and study after study after study have just been collecting dust on shelves for years," Davis said. "We really think we have a good shot of making this become a reality this time."

In 2019 Child Care Network was a finalist among 19 other organizations in the state for a $100,000 Early Learning Indiana grant but in the end was beat out for that funding.

Davis said the project fits the redevelopment commission’s criteria for funding which includes downtown development, economic development and education.

"This work would help deliver quality services to our families," Davis said. "The grant would also provide some subsidization dollars for low-income families needing quality child care services and also provide an endowment supporting this work in perpetuity."

Due to the current lack of available child care, Jackson County has been designated a child care desert.

"A community is considered a child care desert if there are three or more children for each child care seat available," Garrity said.

According to the 2017 Kids Count Data Report, Jackson County is more than double the definition with nearly 13 child care spots available per 100 children, which calculates to about eight children per spot.

"The numbers are there," Davis said. "We know the need is there."

Although Jackson County has five licensed child care centers which include On My Way Pre-K classes and Head Start, there is no center for children under the age of three. There also are 15 home providers and six child care ministries, all of which are licensed.

The lack of available child care became even more noticeable during the COVID-19 pandemic, Garrity said.

When school closed in March, multiple businesses in the community contacted Child Care Network to help find child care for essential workers.

"One business in the community alone had 150 employees that needed to find child care," Garrity said.

With its On My Way Pre-K and Kids Klub programs provided in the schools, Child Care Network was unable to help.

"I felt paralyzed because there was nothing we could do," Garrity said.

"This past four months has really just strengthened our resolve to the community," Davis added.

Because many of the parents in need of child care work at local industries, Garrity said the center would align with industry work schedules.

The new center will be open from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also will allow Child Care Network to expand its current before- and after-school and preschool services, Garrity added.

Additional funding will be required for the operation of the child care center. Child Care Network is investing $100,000 annually for the first three years and the Community Foundation also has pledged $50,000 over that same time period.

Garrity said they also are requesting $55,000 from Jackson County United Way along with playground grants and community investment from other private and public entities.

Commissioner Bonnye Good said having such a center would benefit local companies, workers and would help attract people to move to Seymour.

"It’s definitely something that we need," Good said. 

If anyone can make the project happen, it’s Garrity, who has served as executive director of Child Care Network since 2015.

It was under her leadership that Bartholomew County opened the Bright Beginnings Early Learning Center. That facility serves children ages 6-weeks to 4-years old.

Throughout the opening of Bright Beginnings, Garrity was part of the entire process from the initial construction meetings, securing funding and selecting wallpaper to working as the center’s director.

Seymour’s proposed child care center will be twice the size of Bright Beginnings, but Garrity said her past experiences have prepared her for this challenge.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Public hearing 

Purpose: Child Care Network is seeking $50,000 from the Seymour Redevelopment Commission to support a project to open a community child care center in downtown Seymour.

Where: Council chambers at Seymour City Hall, 301 N. Chestnut St.

When: 4 p.m. today


No posts to display