The oldest preschool in the state will not have to close its doors.
The newly formed board talked Tuesday about the plan to keep the Barrett Early Learning Center open, saying a renewed focus on fundraising is what will make that happen.
"The center is going to survive and that's really what we all wanted in the long run. We didn't think it was going to happen," said Carlos Armengol, president of the center's former board.
On July 18, the center announced it had to close its doors due to financial concerns, but that hurdle has been cleared. After an hour behind closed doors Monday night, community members addressed key concerns still facing the center, including hiring a new director, replacing the front fence, forming a new board and addressing some philanthropic needs.
The new 12-member board, which talked for the first time Tuesday, is tasked with developing a long-range fundraising and community outreach plan. The goal is $75,000.
The board's vice president, Sena Magill, says the center has helped her family and now it's time to give back.
"It's been an affordable daycare and a good daycare option for our child. She is sharp as a tack," she said.
The center serves about 30 children and board members say that will now continue, but it is still looking for donations and volunteers. Click here to help.
Barrett Early Learning Center
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. July 30, 2013—After 78 years, the Barrett Early Learning Center will remain open for children and families with no interruption of care. On July 18th, the board of directors announced that the center would close operations as of August 16 due to financial concerns with the cumbersome VAECC reimbursement swipe card system, combined with a decrease in philanthropic contributions. Founded in 1935 and formerly known as the Janie Porter Barrett Nursery, it is one of the oldest early childhood programs in Virginia.
After the announcement of closure last week, members of the community contacted the current board of directors to discuss the how to keep the center open. By the end of the hour-long meeting last evening, members of the community stepped forward to address the major concerns facing the center including, hiring a new director, replacing the front fence, forming a new board and addressing some immediate philanthropic needs. The newly formed board was also committed to developing a long-range fundraising and community outreach plan.
Carlos Armengol, former board of directors president says, "This was the best possible outcome for the center and for the children and families. There are still challenges that need to be addressed, but with new board leadership and a renewed focus on fundraising, hopefully this is the solution that will help the center continue for future generations."
The Barrett Early Learning Center provides early childhood education for children ages two to five years of age with about 30 children enrolled at any time. The center primarily serves children from the Charlottesville community who qualify for childcare assistance through the Virginia Department of Social Services Child Care Subsidy Program (VADSS) and also for working families.
Barrett is dedicated to keeping tuition rates affordable for Charlottesville's working families. Many families do not qualify for assistance, but still can't afford average childcare rates in the Charlottesville area. On average, the daily rate Barrett charges is $33 per child per day, which is the rate VADSS reimburses centers for childcare.
"Barrett relies on philanthropic donations to make up for what tuition doesn't cover, but also for scholarships, building maintenance and programs. I encourage the community to consider giving to Barrett because 100 percent of funds goes directly to help the center and the children who attend," says Armengol.