The need for child care in the Fox Valley has grown, and often the demand is higher than availability. Two grants from funds within the Community Foundation helped create space for infants at Lake Edge Learning Center in Neenah: The John and Sally Mielke Early Years Fund granted $5,000, and the Robert Dohr and Lilas Dohr Current Community Needs Fund granted $2,000 so that the center could add an infant room. With the addition of the room, the learning center was able to add capacity and retain pregnant staff who would have had to find other child care for their children or leave the workforce entirely.
Without the help from the John & Sally Mielke Early Years Fund and the Robert and Lilas Dohr Current Community Needs Fund, the infant room at Lake Edge Learning Center would not have been possible. The addition of the infant room allowed staff and families with babies due to stay with us. There is a severe need for child care in our community, especially for infants.
We would not have been able to make the infant room as safe, inviting and diverse as it is right now without the grants allowing us to make these changes. One of the biggest challenges we faced was how to have the confidence and security to allow infants who were crawling and walking to share a classroom with newborn babies. The grant allowed us to purchase a large divider and gate to create a safe space for our youngest to play.
As a nature-based school in Neenah, we wanted to make sure this class could still spend the day outside like our older children. We were able to get a wagon to go for walks and an outdoor tent to keep our babies safe while still having some fun in the sun.
Right away, we received feedback from parents about how inviting and cozy the room is. From a first glance, you can tell it is a space where our littlest can learn and grow safely.
“I really like that the infant room has specific areas for non-mobile babies as well as mobile,” said preschool teacher Rachel Baker. “The toys are fun and used in an educational manner too. As a teacher, it’s nice to keep my child here with me.”
All of us here at Lake Edge Learning Center are so grateful for making this happen. Thank you!
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