Increased rent drives day cares out of downtown Madison

Increased rent drives day cares out of downtown Madison

For kids, day care is about making friends, playing games and afternoon naps, and having a place to drop kids off close to work means a lot to parents, like Karli Shapiro, who works downtown.

“It’s the best feeling to be able to be a working parent and be a really involved and present parent,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro’s son is currently enrolled in Creative Learning. The child care center is located near the Capitol Square. The location allowed Shapiro to nurse both of her children while working at the same time.

“Parents who are able to run across the street and nurse their babies or walk from their homes that are very close to downtown — without that availability, parents are going to have to rethink their entire lifestyle,” Shapiro said.

Downtown day cares are becoming rare in the area. Higher rent prices are driving day care centers out of downtown Madison and leaving fewer options for working families.

Red Caboose, one of the two largest child care centers in downtown Madison, announced earlier this year they will move from their location on Williamson Street to Union Corners on Madison’s east side.

According to Lisa Fiala, executive director of Red Caboose, the day care started actively looking for new locations three years ago. Fiala said increasing rent and the need for more space prompted the nonprofit to move.

Creative Learning has faced the same challenge for years. The day care has room for 150 kids and consistently has a waiting list. It takes 1 1/2 years for kids to be approved.

Even though business is good, increasing rent has affected the nonprofit for years.

“It’s just been a constant struggle to maintain quality and affordability,” said Mary Flanner, executive director of Creative Learning.

The day care thought about relocating to help with cost, but when their current landlord offered to sell the building, Creative Learning began trying to raise the money to buy it.

“If we would have to move out, then there would be nobody here and people would have to commute out to take their children to child care,” Flanner said.

Smaller day cares in the area can come with age restrictions and limited accessibility, making it hard for parents to find a day care that will fit their needs.

Creative Learning has raised more than half of what the building will cost, which is enough to purchase the building, but they still need about $100,000 to reach their $500,000 goal.

“We are thrilled. I would be truly heartbroken if Creative Learning would have to leave downtown,” Flanner said. “We did everything we could to raise the money to be able to stay in this facility to be able to accommodate these families.”