Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool partners with church to serve more children
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool and a Grayling church have joined forces to open a new building, which will double its capacity to serve more children and families in the community.
The Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool and Mt. Hope Lutheran Church leaders and their congregation held a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday, August 4, for a new building that will be home to the day care and preschool.
Established in 1980, the Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool, located at 6989 Old Lake Road, is licensed to serve up to 39 children. Grayling social worker Pam Fisher, an advocate for early child development, founded the day care and preschool.
The non-profit organization offers a 3-year-old preschool program and a 4-year-old preschool program as well as a latchkey program for school age children before and after school, during the summer and on days school is not in session.
Salena Laskowski, the executive director of the Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool, said the current facility has just over 2,000 square feet.
Laskowski took over as the executive director after Margret Skidmore retired in 2012. She previously worked there as a child care aide.
Preschool and day care facility leaders and the board of directors began discussion with Mt. Hope Lutheran church leaders in March of 2018.
“We’ve outgrown the center a long time ago,” Laskowski said. “Our programs are full and we still have a waiting list of over 100 children.”
Mt. Hope Lutheran officials toured the day care and preschool three years ago with plans to open their own facility. Ultimately, church leaders determined that it would be too much of an undertaking to do themselves.
“They’re an older congregation so nobody wanted to take on opening a center,” Laskowski said.
The church was considering the day care center to expands its community outreach.
“They were seeking to do more outreach programs and seniors and children were the two biggest things that our community needed,” Laskowski said.
The new facility will be located adjacent to the church and will have its own access drive off of Airport Road. The building will be 6,000 square feet with a 2,400 square foot attached pavilion.
Laskowski said day care leaders were not eyeing other possibilities for an expansion when the Mt. Hope Lutheran Church initiated talks regarding the partnership.
“We didn’t really know that we would have an opportunity to expand,” she said. “It just kind of started that way and we didn’t have to look anywhere else, so that’s how we’re partnering with them.”
The increased space will allow the day care and preschool to care for up to 70 children. It will also allow the facility to offer infant and toddler care.
Mt. Hope Lutheran Church Pastor Joe Polzin said the partnership came about through a mutual goal to serve Grayling area families.
“One thing brought Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool and Mt. Hope together and that is a love for their community and the families in it. The Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool will continue to operate as a secular school maintaining the highest standards possible in their new home without unwanted interference from the church,” Polzin said. “The Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool strives to maintain a safe, loving, and educational place for children while their parents are working to provide a better future for their families.”
The church, however, will be there to support the preschool and day care with its goals.
“For its part, Mt. Hope will do whatever it can to support the Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool in this mission, motivated by the longstanding Christian principle of caring for its neighbors,” Polzin said. “Mt. Hope recognized the critical need for day care in Crawford County several years ago and has worked ever since to find the optimal way to aid the community, finally arriving at this new collaborative effort with the Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool.”
Church members have donated $300,000 for the construction of the $749,000 building. Mortgage and insurance costs will be rolled into a lease agreement between the church and day care and preschool.
“It will not cost Mt. Hope a penny to have us out there in operation,” Laskowski said. “We’ll have all those costs put into our lease payment.”
The day care and preschool currently has six employees. The expansion will create the need to bring on four to six full or part-time employees.
It is estimated it will take four to six months for construction. The day care will then start moving some of its furnishings and supplies to the new building. It could take up to four to six weeks to get licensing approved for the facility which they hope to in by February 2020.
“The building will have to set up exactly how it will be opened before we can get licensing to come in and give us our final approval,” Laskowski said.
If you have any interest in learning more about possibilities with the Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool either as a caregiver or client, call Laskowski at (989) 348-7709.