Everett Community College Pauses Plans to Close Early Learning Center
Thursday, December 2, 2021
EVERETT, Wash. -- After community pushback, Everett Community College has paused plans to close its Early Learning Center, which has provided child-care services and nutritional counseling to many low-income families north of Seattle for 29 years.
Parents and employees were notified last week through a letter from the college, which stated a review of revenue and expenses shows the program is "not financially sustainable."
Prior to a Tuesday night Board of Trustees meeting, the college sent a letter to the community saying the board will work with state and local leaders to find permanent funding.
Michelle Doran, whose three-year-old daughter attends the center, said the program has been a lifeline over the past few months as she's experienced homelessness.
"I can't tell you how phenomenal that program has been," Doran remarked. "The support that I've gotten from Early Learning Center basically has made it, so I don't hit rock bottom, I have been able to maintain a full-time job and get quality child care."
Everett officials said the center has accumulated a net loss of $700,000 over a five-year period. In its original letter to staff, the college said it planned to close the center next June 30, and 14 employees would be laid off.
Everett Community College said it is interested in turning the lease of the building over to the YMCA of Snohomish County to run a day-care program.
Amie Waters, assistant director of Everett Community College's Early Learning Center, said she is encouraged there is a chance to fight for the future of the program, because she does not think the YMCA would be able to provide the same high-quality education.
"The YMCA starts their lead teachers at $13 an hour, and they cap out a little over $17, so their ending wage is lower than our starting wage," Waters explained. "To have the Young Men's Christian Association take over our beautiful, diverse program feels very insulting."
The Early Learning Center was accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Fewer than 10% of child-care and early-education centers in the U.S. receive the accreditation.
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