After operating for more than two decades, the CAW Child Care Centre is closing due to lack of funding. More than 170 families will be impacted when the daycare centre shuts down at the end of September.
"CAW Child Care Centre was one of the few child care providers that provided infant care, so for families with infants and toddlers. It's going to be very difficult to find care elsewhere," said executive director Ann Angelidis.
ABC Daycare officials said they have received many calls from parents who will soon be without a caretaker. The daycare has four locations in the city and officials are trying to accommodate as many people as possible.
ABC may also extend its hours until midnight at the Jefferson area location to accommodate people like Tom Stergianis, who typically picks up his 5-year-old son at that time.
"We're going to be scrambling now. Who is going to take care of our son during the off-days. I don't know what we're going to do. It's going to be tough. We'll be stuck," said Stergianis.
Stergianis used the centre often in the summer, holidays and during swing shifts.
Stergianis was shocked when he found out about the closure Wednesday while picking up his son.
"We've been through some tough times and sometimes you expect maybe they will cut back a little or charge a little bit more. I never expected this place to close down because they have a high enrolment," said Stergianis, who works at Chrysler with his wife.
Stergianis said the daycare costs had been subsidized by Ford and GM — until recently. Chrysler has been paying much of the bill since the two auto companies pulled funding.
"It's pretty sad not to help out the families who work [at Chrysler]," said Stergianis.
Officials blame closure on lack of support
Ann Angelidis blames the closure on funding because of a lack of money from the senior levels of government and the fact that Chrysler and Ford are no longer helping fund the daycare centre for their workers.
"The government has not stepped up to provide any type of funding to child care providers and with the implementation of full day early learning it has resulted in the decision to terminate the services," said Angelidis.
The news is also a blow to the 59 employees who will lose their jobs, some of whom will likely get work with the school boards, she said.
As Stergianis was leaving the child care centre Wednesday, he said the staff had tears in their eyes.
"These are early childhood educators with many years of experience, and it's going to be very difficult for them to find these were well-paid jobs and we all know how difficult it is in this community now to secure positions like that," said Angelidis, who is responsible for telling families and workers about the closure.
Angelidis said they will get help finding other spaces, but admits it will be tough.
The 23-year-old centre is licensed for 150 spaces and it has 244 children from 173 families.