HOISINGTON — Parents will no longer have to struggle to find care for their elementary age children for those extra couple hours per day after school in Hoisington when a new after school care program begins next fall. The name of the new business is GPS Kids Club.
“It’s a genuine need in the community,” said Deb Stephens, who will be program director. “It’s tough to find quality care for a few hours of an evening. This is on my heart and has been for a lot of years,” she told the Hoisington City Council Monday night.
The new business will be housed in the Barton County Annex and rezoning of the Annex was approved Monday night from residential to C-2 Industrial to allow the facility to operate as a daycare. The Planning Commission held a meeting earlier this year and recommended the rezoning.
Stephens assured the council that she intends to be diligent about running this non-profit business, and it has been something she has wanted to do since she ran a daycare in her home years ago. She said after school care is an issue for parents because care providers are limited on the number of children allowed in the daycare, and for financial reasons, providers want younger children who are full-time, leaving parents from kindergarten to sixth grade in a bind.
County Attorney Richard Boeckman was also present at the meeting to explain the county’s support for the daycare. The county currently owns the Barton County Annex.
Boeckman explained the building was purchased and intended for use by non-profits, but the county has had difficulty keeping the building occupied. He said the county spent approximately $70,000 to fix it up, but major infrastructure improvements are needed, including a new boiler.
They county will donate the building to GPS Kids Club.
Stephens informed the council that there is a lot of funding available to improve the infrastructure. She is in the process of gaining 501 (c)3 non-profit status, which takes 6-9 months.
The daycare will start in the northwest corner of the building which was originally fixed up for Head Start and is up to code. Head Start did operate in the building until it lost its funding.
The cost is tentatively set at $9 a day for drop-ins or $35 per week. The tentative cost is $18 for a full day when the facility is open during the school year. There will also be an enrollment fee.
GPS Kids Club will offer Homework Help, games, life skills and healthy snacks. They plan to have a daycare for infants and toddlers in 2-5 years.
Plans are also in the works to take over the Summer Rec program in 2015. They expect to start with 35 kids initially, and the school district has agreed to bus the kids from the elementary schools to the facility. They will keep the same schedule as the school and be open from 3-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A Needs Assessment was done last fall that indicated at least 90 children were in need of after school care.
In addition, they would like to rent out some of the office space for additional revenue, and rent out the sanctuary portion for family events. The Barton County Annex was the former First Christian Church.
There will be five employees including Stephens. They are: Kristy Blazek, Kansas State Licensed program director and head of curriculum; Dawn DeBolt, assistant director and tech; and two certified group leaders, Bailey Barnard and Jayme Bradley.
“What we love about the building is that it will benefit the community far beyond us,” said Stephens. “It’s genuinely about the kids.”