The Jefferson City Day Care Center will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2017, and staff and volunteers are busy planning a birthday bash. Fifty years ago a group of parents who lived on public assistance wanted to make a better life for their children. They wanted to get off welfare, find jobs, and break the cycle of poverty. They were put in touch with a local organization, Church Women United, and together they created the Jefferson City Day Care Center, designed to offer a safe place for children to stay while their parents went to work or to job interviews. The Jefferson City Cay Care Center started in an apartment owned by the Jefferson City Housing Authority, and was run by parents and volunteers from Church Women United. In just a couple of years the Jefferson City Day Care Center was moved to its current location, 1002 Myrtle Avenue, and had a paid staff. In 1970 the Jefferson City Day Care Center became a United Way of Central Missouri partner agency, offering a sliding fee scale for working parents. Since that time the Center has tripled its enrollment, achieved accreditation by hiring degreed and CDA certified teachers, purchased and began renovating their 40+ year old building… always with support from their United Way partner.
The Jefferson City Day Care Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM and is licensed for 99 children from birth to eight years. The Center’s mission is to provide early childhood education services in a caring environment primarily for low and middle income working families. The Center fulfills its mission by offering an accredited early childhood education program for the children which prepares them for kindergarten. The children receive breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack designed to meet the majority of their nutrition needs for the day. The paid staff is supplemented by volunteers, who rock babies, read to the children, play with the children and help as needed. Childcare fees are determined based on the family’s size and gross annual income.
In 2013 Governor Nixon announced Jefferson City Day Care Center was awarded $200,000 in NAP tax credits through the Missouri Department of Economic Development to renovate areas of the building. The building committee, led by Rick Vaughan of Vaughan Pools, contacted architect Brian Connell of Brian Connell Architecture, to help with the renovations and board members contacted leaders in our community to ask for financial support. These community leaders, led by Linda McAnany and Dave Turner, formed the Friends of Children Committee who went to work seeking donations for the renovations.
The work of these dedicated volunteers resulted in $365,542 for building improvements that has been used to replace the roof, gutters, soffit and siding, renovate and expand the kitchen, enlarge the multipurpose room, renovate the laundry area, add a new hallway and library area, renovate three preschool classrooms and add children’s restrooms.
Being part of the United Way family has benefitted the Jefferson City Day Care Center in many ways. United Way funding makes it possible for a mother of two who works full time at Taco Bell making $8.25 an hour to afford childcare and stay off public assistance. United Way funding makes it possible for a child in protective services to have a safe place to be cared for during the day. But being a part of the United Way family has many other benefits that are equally important-- it’s the collaboration and partnerships between United Way’s network of partner agencies that help people get the in-depth services that provide holistic support for their unique needs. The Special Learning Center partners with Jefferson City Day Care Center by providing therapy to children enrolled in the Center so parents won’t have to miss work; the Boys and Girls Club partners with the Center to transition school aged children into the Club; and many other United Way partner agencies collaborate with The Jefferson City Day Care Center including Salvation Army, Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, Dreams to Reality, Red Cross, CASA, and The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. All share a common goal—to work together for the good of the children and the families in our community.
Keeping children safe, helping parents work and stay off government assistance, and working toward a better life for children and parents are important goals for the Jefferson City Day Care Center, and thanks to the help of the United Way and our community support, it’s working. We certainly do have lots to celebrate!
Article by Donna Scheidt,
Jefferson City Day Care Center