Little Promises opens doors after drilling new well, negotiating COVID

 

November 18, 2020

A NEW WELL at Little Promises has allowed it to reopen after months.

When Little Promises Children's Program closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no way Nelia Taraski, director of the preschool, could have known how many barriers would stand in the way of the nonprofit opening its doors again.

First, the pandemic.

Then, the well connected to the building began to grow bacteria because of stagnation.

"There was no way we could compromise and no way the state would let us re-open with the water being like that," Taraski said.

So the school began fundraising, and went forward with a new well even though it hadn't raised all the funds yet. It's been eight months since the childcare center shut its doors, but now, with a new well, drilled in late summer, and newly tested clean water, and a new Emergency Childcare License, Taraski can finally welcome children back to Little Promises.

The program can't afford to cover more than 40 hours a week of childcare right now, especially with the bill from the well hanging over their heads.

They raised $4,200 for the project, but the well will cost them at least $9,000, Taraski said.

"We can pull emergency money to pay for it, but then wouldn't have any capacity for any overtime," she explained. The non-profit is still taking donations to cover some of the costs, she said.

Still, the program is back in operation and working on expansion.

Currently, there are classes for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, and Little Promises will soon open cohorts of toddlers and babies too.

The requirements for re-opening were "incredibly strict," Taraski said: "I thought immigration was bad, but this is even worse!"

"We basically have to have janitors follow them constantly," she said. "We're having to pay a ton on cleaning and cleaning supplies. Bathrooms have to be cleaned after every use, and we have to clean every toy the kids touch."

Taraski said a pilot program for 4-year-olds has gone pretty well. The parents were especially accommodating when it came to new pick-up and drop-off procedures. Since parents aren't allowed in the building, the program had to figure out how to configure the parking lot to accommodate all the cars.


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Taraski said she is worried about how it will work to bring infants in, though they're committed to having that class re-open as well.

"I wish we were like a bank and we could put them in one of those vacuum capsules and put the baby in," she joked.

The childcare center also has to perform health checks on every child entering the building, and document when the child fails the check. Then, after getting some hand sanitizer, the kids can finally enter the building. Taraski has allocated 30 minutes for check-in in the mornings for groups of just 20 kids because of all the requirements.


Still, Taraski and her teachers are excited to bring children back into the building.

Teacher Tara Fredrick said she was furloughed because of the pandemic, but is excited to start opening up.

"You go from seeing certain kids every day, and then you go months where you just see them out and about or on Facebook, but it's not the same as interacting with them and teaching them every day."

"It's really exciting, because I did miss the kids," she said. "I've been back to work recently to get my room ready."

There's still a lot of room for children to join the program full and part-time, Taraski said. The nursery has capacity for eight babies, and the 2-year-old room has capacity for 10, with only two committed at this time for part-time care. There are 12 spots available for the 3-year-olds, and a few spots left for pre-K, which was the pilot program.

Taraski said the childcare is priced at $5 an hour. More information and pricing is available on the Little Promises Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LittlePromises.

 
 

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