We need to save our day care
Students at Pine Hill Child Care Center, which will move next week to a new location in Wilton
Pine Hill Child Care Center held a Festival of Flowers, Fruit and Fire celebration with parents and grandparents last week. Shown during a singing of "The Farmer in the Dell" are, from left, students Bridgette Hill, 4, Brady Clark, 5, and Ali Hamilton, 3.
The decision to end Con Val’s relationship with Pine Hill Childcare Center is representative of so many wrongdoings in the world. The more involved I become in this issue, the more passionate I am to resolve it. In my efforts to advocate for PHCCC, significant information that has not been adequately disclosed to the public, has come to light. Soon, my child’s beloved school will be closed. However, I have not given up hope for a positive outcome because we do have the power to change the decision. The town of Peterborough needs this resource.
• Pine Hill of Wilton is the parent organization of PHCCC. Last summer (2012), Pine Hill informed Con Val that they wished to end their lease of the childcare space. Pine Hill and PHCCC indicated that PHCCC wished to remain in the space and to lease it out as a new childcare program. PHCCC will officially become A Child’s Nature on July 1.
• PHCCC is the only childcare center in town that has effectively provided services year round, in a school setting, for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. There are not enough local daycares to fill this specialized niche. PHCCC is state-certified, accepts low-income families and has access to support for special needs students. Families are confused and concerned about what to do. Local childcare homes are filled for the next year. A local mother finally receiving state aid and wanting to enroll her children at PHCCC will have nowhere to go.
• In order to remain a state-certified site, there are strict requirements for a new space. Yet, in spite of eight months of scouring the area, staff and parents have been unable to find an adequate space to relocate to. However, the current space was designed specifically for young children as part of the regional vocational education. Upon further review of the NH Dept. of Education website, I found the following information regarding the space itself:
Chapter 188-E, Section 188-E:3-Regional Vocational Education-Construction or renovation of regional vocational centers-“II. Provision of the site shall be the responsibility of the community.”
The community is supporting the public school system which currently has a thriving, unique and needed childcare facility. How is it a good idea to change this? These children are future ConVal graduates. The community needs to be part of this decision. I have spoken with hundreds of people who wish to see the childcare center remain at ConVal. What is most disheartening is that there has not been any transparency from school officials regarding this decision. In fact, the decision was made based on incomplete information.
• PHCCC is a learning laboratory at the fingertips of many high school students. Three different high school programs collaborate with the childcare center. This is part of what I love about the ConVal/PHCCC relationship. In fact, many high school interns have been hired by PHCCC. Currently, there are five former interns that work either full or part time at PHCCC. The collaboration between PHCCC and ConVal is truly one of a kind and needs to be celebrated not destroyed.
• The ConVal district student population is dwindling. There is room within the high school to house all of the students and programs adequately; it may just take some creative reorganizing. For example, there is a large, expensive “virtual classroom” near the ATC main office. It is empty days on end and is space that could be used with more purpose. A massive gymnasium renovation also included more classrooms.
I am asking the public for help in overturning this decision. Closing or relocating a stable childcare center is a momentous task. We need your help. Please call the superintendent or your School Board representative and let him/her know your opinion.
Kristen Reilly lives in Peterborough.