QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) – Over 70 children and their families will be looking for new child care options this weekend as a lack of funding from the State of Illinois appears to have taken its toll on another tri-state business.
Effective at 5:30 p.m. Friday, the Walter Hammond Day Care facility in Quincy closed due to late payments from the State of Illinois and other funding shortfalls, said board president Jeanetta Green.
"Failure to receive anticipated revenues has made (Walter Hammond) unable to pay bills and salaries," Green told WGEM News.
Board members are calling the decision made at Thursday's board meeting a "temporary closure", although Green said some parents may have seen the closure coming.
But such an abrupt decision has left many families without a place to turn.
"So abruptly to tell you they're going to close just the same day. What about parents who have to work the next day? What are we going to do about daycare?" said Collete Douglas, who has a child attending Walter Hammond.
But it's more than just the location. At $52.50 a week for full time daycare, Walter Hammond costs 50 percent less than the state average. Finding anything close to that price for private daycare will be nearly impossible, says Douglas.
"It's going to be very difficult especially because I'm a single parent and this is probably the most reasonable daycare in Quincy," said Colette Douglas.
Families are being referred to private childcare options while the situation is resolved, Green said.
Illinois State Representative Jil Tracy and State Senator John Sullivan were able to gather $26,000 in late payments Friday to be delivered to the facility. (See "State reps: No notice Walter Hammond Day Care was closing") Green said that money will be used to pay bills and staff, but the day care will still remain closed.
Green said that there is no timetable on when the day care could reopen, but she hopes the community can rally together to help revive the facility.
"Maybe do fundraisers, or even contribute," Green said. "There are people who could...even just do simple things, like cut the grass. Who could be mentors to some of the kids. Who could volunteer."
In December 2009, Green told WGEM News that the day care was at a "critical point" due to a lack of state funding. (See "Budget issues could force Walter Hammond Day Care to close") At that time, day care enrollment had dropped from 60 kids to 35, mainly in part to high unemployment and layoffs. The pre-K program also had 40 children enrolled.
The day care has been in operation since 1977, when it was then known as the Frederick Ball Day Care. Green said that "the handwriting has been on the wall," but she never believed it would come to closing the facility.
"My position all the time was that we're not going to close. I said that from the beginning. Then reality sunk in," said Green.
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