BY HEATHER ROBERTS
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Just like elsewhere in the region, the childcare shortage is hitting Redmond hard.
“We get phone calls daily of families looking for daycare, lots of them from out of town that are moving here,” said Jenny Schwerbel, co-director of the Redmond Learning Center. “We have waitlists in every classroom, and families are telling us on the phone that everywhere they call has waitlists.”
The city has around 2,400 kids, age 5 and under, but just about 700 licensed daycare slots. The nonprofit Redmond Learning Center currently serves 53 children in an aging building near Redmond High School.
As a former mayor of Redmond and a Deschutes County Commissioner, Alan Unger is keenly aware of the need. But, as a member of the Redmond Kiwanis Club, he also thought he had a solution – the Walter Frank Building at the Opportunity Foundation. “This building is perfect for childcare,” he said.
And the partnership is perfect for the Opportunity Foundation, where employees have to sometimes decide between coming to work and caring for their kids.
“It happens all the time, they don’t have a babysitter or childcare is too expensive,” said Ellyn Waller, with the Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon.
But, the building isn’t ready for kids, yet. It needed a little work. “We have cleaned it up, we painted it, we’re doing some other repairs,” Unger said, “But we’re moving forward to make this the nicest childcare spot in Redmond.”
The $14,000 renovation is funded by the Kiwanis Club and donations from area businesses, many of which also gave labor and materials for the project.
It’ll increase the physical size of the Redmond Learning Center, and allow for future enrollment growth.
“We have that empty room out there that we’re hoping to eventually develop into more classrooms,” said Bri Casciato, co-director of the Redmond Learning Center.
Work should be done by the end of this month and the daycare hopes to move in by mid-November.
The Kiwanis Club is looking for volunteers to help this Saturday, October 12, as they clean up some of the construction work. The Opportunity Foundation is at 835 Highway 126, just east of Highway 97.