Washington plans to open its first daycare and preschool before and after school program

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WASHINGTON – Working parents with young children will soon no longer need to leave town to bring their infants to daycare in the morning. The city wants to open a day care center all day and all year round.

“It’s something we’ve been hearing for quite some time. People had asked, ”said Michelle Gorra, Washington director of economic development. “We knew there were parents who worked and scrambled to look after their children.”

The facility could be at the Region 12 central office, which is located in the city’s old high school on School Street.

Washington does not have daycare facilities for infants up to the age of 3. Working parents use family members or drive their children out of town, Gorra said.

To assess the need for a daycare center in the city, the Washington Economic Development Committee conducted a survey in the fall called the Shepaug Valley Childcare Survey, which was distributed in school district emails and on social media.

In the survey, parents were asked to indicate how many children in their household were in the infant age group to age 4, if they were currently attending an approved child care program. children outside the home and whether they would consider enrolling in child care. in Washington if it is for a fee that they are able to afford.

“We had 106 responses in two weeks,” Gorra said. “It was remarkable.”


About half of those who responded to the survey (53 of 106) live in Washington, while a strong response also came from residents of Roxbury and Bridgewater, with residents of New Milford and Litchfield also participating.

She said the committee was very surprised at the responses, which she said expressed a strong desire for city day care and before and after school care.

“If everyone who has indicated they are interested actually came, we would be double the capacity – we would have a waiting list,” Gorra said. “It was quite shocking for us.”

Location, number of children, staff

The city will not need to build a new facility, which has a target fall opening.

“It would be a renovation. The idea is to reconcile what we have. The Region 12 central office is currently located in a building of the old city high school on School Street, next to Washington Elementary School, which offers a half-day preschool, ”said Gorra.

If the daycare is approved, the central office will move to the Shepaug campus and the newly available space will house the daycare.

“We identified a space in Shepaug for a move that would put a central office in different parts of the building,” said Megan Bennett, superintendent of Regional School District 12, which includes Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater. “I think it’s important that schools help our communities grow and flourish. Relocating the central office to Shepaug would help parents with young children in the area.

The central office building was built in 1909 as a high school. It has been the central administration office for Region 12 for over 30 years.

“We intend to use only the first floor of the building, which is 3,306 square feet,” Gorra said.

Although the project does not involve any construction, the building is expected to comply with code for a daycare center. This would involve plumbing for sinks for hand washing and children’s toilets.

If the daycare gets the green light, it will serve about 35 children during the school year, with possibly more during the summer months.

Additionally, the new facility would also house a before and after school program for preschoolers, ages 3-4, which the city does not currently offer.

“That’s why this location is ideal. Preschoolers could just go straight to the program after their day is over, ”Gorra said. “The idea is to dovetail with what we already have – not to replace our current preschool program, but to complement it.”

Cost

The first phase of the project, which included a pre-design and feasibility study, amounted to $ 3,500. It started in November and was funded by a grant of $ 2,000 from the Watts Fund Charity and $ 1,500 from the city’s economic development committee.

Phase two includes a design and build estimate of $ 8,400, which was approved at the Finance Council meeting on December 20.

The next step would be a city meeting, which has yet to be set.

If the city gives its approval, the goal is for the central office to move later in the year. Work on the building can then begin immediately thereafter and staff can be secured for a fall opening.

“Providing child care can make moving and city life easier and make Washington an attractive place for younger age groups,” Gorra said. “This is an important project designed to provide an essential service to residents of our region.

sfox@milfordmirror.com 203-948-9802

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