Kaleidoscope set to grow

  • Tue May 20th, 2008 7:12pm
  • News

Tigger the Cat and Trevor Perdue nap after a morning outing to the Evans farm.

tExpansion to provide for infant and toddler care

In further service to their mission, “providing safe, affordable, high quality, consistent childcare and preschool while supporting Orcas Island working families,” Kaleidoscope Childcare Center has announced plans to add fulltime infant and toddler care to its program.

Currently, Kaleidoscope’s childcare license currently allows it to provide services to children from the ages of 2 ½ to 12, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., year round. With the expansion, Kaleidoscope will extend services to children starting at one month of age and continuing through twelve years.

The Kaleidoscope board had been discussing the continuing need to support working families, and how they could help, when a sizable, anonymous contribution from a regular donor came in, with the encouragement, “I’m sure Kaleidoscope has a project just right for the donation,” Director Amber Minnis reported.

The expansion will enable parents of very young children, with full-time, 40-hour work weeks, to accept employment opportunities on Orcas.

“The best thing to do for our children is strengthen their families, by decreasing the stress they face,” said Minnis.

“We make sure the childcare we provide is in a family-like atmosphere, because many children spend 50 hours a week with us – not because their parents want to be away from them that long, but because they must if they want to stay on the island,” said Minnis.

The infant room will be staffed with one teacher for four children, and can accommodate up to eight children. The toddler room will be staffed on a 1:7 ratio. The cost will remain the same.

Minnis clearly understands that Kaleidoscope’s current operations exist through fundraising, “We can’t dip into those operational expenses. But the Board has decided to go forward because it’s important to us to support working families.”

That commitment extends to charging the same rate per hour regardless of which classroom a child is in. “It will involve more fundraising, and we accept that in support of our mission.”

Although two years from kickoff was projected as the original opening date for the expansion, Minnis says that with the publication of their plans in Kaleidoscope’s May newsletter, “we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response, especially from local builders and contractors who want to donate their services – without me even contacting them.”

By volunteering their services, the fund-raising is less formidable. Allen Minnis will be the project manager. “We’ll be able to start sooner than expected,” said Minnis.

When asked why this change is so important, Minnis, says, “Parents who have children under 30 months old, and who must work 40 hours or more a week need access to full-time childcare at a fully licensed, high quality facility. Currently, they may find themselves in a childcare bind and have to turn down income or employment opportunities entirely. This adds to the struggle that young families experience in our community and can leave them with no other choice but to move away from Orcas.”

The expansion calls for Kaleidoscope to add nearly 1,500 square feet, including an infant room, toddler room, extra storage and office space dedicated to providing family support.

Teri Williams, owner of Permit Resources, has agreed to facilitate the permit process and Studio 29 is providing architectural services. Many local builders have also come forward to offer their services.

Kaleidoscope has served Orcas Island families since 1991, and expanded in 2002 to serve 38 children in its 2,400 square foot facility off North Beach Road. Local builders were instrumental in acquiring their new space, says Minnis, as well as an anonymous, eleventh-hour donor who made a sizable cash contribution.

Minnis believes that the community will come forward to support Kaleidoscope as it expands its services.

“We want the community at large to know that their paradise isn’t the same for everyone and we have to see out neighbors that we’re sharing the island with.”

We need to be here to support the working families in our community and provide the diversity that makes Orcas work.”