Kachemak Kids Early Learning Center, will close as of July 31, the board of directors announced this week in letters to the editor of both of Homer’s weekly newspapers.
Current director Chelsea White confirmed the closure, but referred questions to Lolita Brache, president of the board. White is expecting a child soon and will be going on maternity leave. She referred further questions to Brache, but Brache in an email and phone call said she did not want to discuss the closure further.
In its letter, the board cited several reasons for why the board voted to close.
“Over the years we have struggled to find a balance between charging tuition that is manageable for a working family while earning enough to pay professional wages for professional educators,” the letter said. “We have also found it very difficult to hire staff with the credentials required by state child care licensing. Ultimately, these difficulties have resulted in the need to close the center.”
White said Kachemak Kids had searched for five months to find a director but without success.
“It’s huge and terrible and really devastating for so many families,” said Susannah Webster, director of another child care facility, Smallpond.
Kachemak Kids was founded in 2006 as part of a work group through the Child Advocacy Coalition of Homer. The group did a survey to determine child care needs and created a board of directors to seek funding for what it called Kachemak Kids. Kachemak Kids opened in August 2007. It has been located in leased space at Christian Community Church on Bartlett Street.
Child care facilities are licensed through the Child Care Program Office, Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Assistance. Lewis Watson, a licensing specialist with the Child Care Program, said the state licenses three kinds of facilities:
• Child care homes, serving up to eight children;
• Child care group homes, serving nine to 12 children; and
• Child care centers, serving 13 or more children.
Child care group homes must have a qualified administrator with at least one year of licensed home child care experience or 12 semester hours of college credit in early childhood development or a Child Development Associate credential or a Montessori certificate. Administrators of child care centers must have the college credit or Child Development Associate credential, Watson said.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.