Kids Academy plans to open new daycare in Berthold
Posted 5/19/10 (Wed)
By Caroline Downs
The Kids Academy in Berthold is now officially incorporated as a non-profit educational and charitable organization that provides a safe environment to care for and meet the needs of children and youth in the area.
The doors just aren’t open yet.
Actually, the Kids Academy has yet to establish a physical presence in town, but the organizational committee and a new board of directors are working intently to maintain daycare options for parents.
Five child care providers currently offer their services in the Berthold area, but two of the three licensed providers will close their operations when the school year ends for personal reasons. “There’s just such a need,” said Kelly Finke, who served on the Kids Academy organizational committee, “and it’s an immediate need.”
The Kids Academy held an informational meeting Thursday in Berthold. More than two dozen parents and other interested community residents attended the session, with most registering as members and paying the $20 fee in order to have a vote in the critical issues facing the proposed center.
Andy Fjeldahl reviewed the progress made by the organizational committee that formed last fall. At that time, a discussion about the need for daycare in Berthold during an economic development corporation meeting spurred several parents to involve themselves in the issue. “We’ve met with four of the daycare providers in the area, and we started bringing in other people for their help and ideas,” Fjeldahl said. “At this point, we do know a few things for sure.”
The committee contacted parents regarding the need for child care. Of the 108 children included in the survey, parents indicated 65 of those kids would likely or definitely participate in a daycare program at least part-time.
Regarding age ranges, the surveys showed a need for daycare for 12 children ages 0 to 2, four children ages 2 and 3, 25 children ages 3 to 5, and 24 children ages 6 to 12 on a part-time basis.
From the committee’s research, Fjeldahl reported that 65 kids would require nine staff members, plus a director and a cook. “We could have 11 jobs right away,” he said, “and for 65 kids, we would need a facility with 6,500 square feet. If we plan for a hundred kids, we’re looking at 9,500 to 10,000 square feet. We’ve been looking around town, and it’s very doable.”
The committee also calculated average rates for daycares in the region, with those amounts coming in at approximately $145 per week for children ages 0 to 2, $140 per week for kids ages 3 and 4, and $135 per week for children ages 4 to 6. At this time, however, the Kids Academy has not determined any rates to charge.
The organizational committee filed the articles of incorporation for the Kids Academy with the state of North Dakota and is working on the application for a federal (c)(3) number as a non-profit entity. Until that process is complete, the Kids Academy will operate under Northwest Venture Communities, Inc., a non-profit organization working to improve the quality of life for northwest North Dakota residents.
In the meantime, the group has received some funding to continue the development of the Academy. Fjeldahl announced the Berthold Economic Development Corporation contributed $10,000 immediately for the project, with a five-year pledge of $4,000 per year. The Berthold Lions Club pledged the proceeds from their annual pancake breakfast for the next five years.
“There’s solid funding for the future,” said Fjeldahl. “We’ve already applied for a grant from SRT, and there are a lot of loans and grants we can’t actually apply for until we have a director and a board. That’s one reason we’re here tonight.”
The group elected board members during Thursday’s meeting, with Summer Ibach and Andy Fjeldahl chosen for three-year terms, Kelly Finke and Pastor Kevin Beard for two-year terms, and Katie Hanson for a one-year term. Fjeldahl will serve as president of the board, with Beard as vice-president and Ibach as secretary-treasurer.
The new board is seeking volunteers to assist with four specific committees as the Academy is developed: Customer and Employee Policy, Finance and Insurance, Building Site and Design, and Hiring and Licensing. “Your help will be greatly appreciated,” Fjeldahl told the group. “Now, we also have to work on fundraisers as a group. There may be a lot of begging, borrowing and stealing!”
“We can sure use lots of help,” Finke added. “It’s going to be a lot of grunt work now, moving to the next steps.”
The board is already planning those next steps. “We’ll start looking to hire a director. That will be our main objective to start with,” said Fjeldahl. “Then we’ll look at the location of the building.” He added a new facility will likely need to be constructed in Berthold, but until that happens, the Academy may choose to operate at another site under a group license for up to 18 kids.
Zion Lutheran Church and St. Ann’s Catholic Church have been discussed as possible temporary daycare sites, and Jodi Webb of the North Dakota Child Care Resource and Referral Network toured both buildings Thursday with members of the organizational committee to determine the feasibility of that idea. According to Fjeldahl, toddlers and older children could be served in the church buildings, but no children under the age of two, unless extensive remodeling could be done.
“We have also looked at modular day care units,” said Fjeldahl as he talked about potential long-term solutions, “and those could be moved in here pretty quickly.”
Finke believes establishing a child care center to accommodate a larger number of children is an attainable goal for the community. “We’ve already gone through several steps,” she said. “This is more of a long-term solution, and it will bring in some jobs. The biggest thing is, there are so many people who need to use something like this.” She added that having such a facility in Berthold may attract more young families to move to the city.
Membership in the Kids Academy currently stands at 31 individuals. Persons with or without young children who are interested in joining and establishing a child care center in Berthold are welcome to contact Summer Ibach at 701-453-3613.