South side day care opens to public as nonprofit
For Ndazonia Ndafooka, it was nice to see the south side building buzzing again.
“The community seems to be really anxious to get this place back up and running,” Ndafooka said. “I know I am!”
Before it closed its doors to south side neighbors, Ndafooka walked with her now two-year-old toddler to Child Development, Inc. every day. However, the child care facility fell into debt and out of its five-star ranking.
“We were really in shock and frantically looking for something,” Ndafooka said.
Since then, the city stepped in and allocated $34,000 in emergency funds to the facility. Kaleem Caire, former head of the Urban League, then took up the project, creating a nonprofit organization to refund and rebrand the day care as One City Early Learning Centers.
“There’s a need for this. Families keep knocking on this door,” Caire said.
Thursday night was the public’s first time inside the building as the nonprofit continues to raise money for its fall open date.
“There’s a lot of potential here in Madison to solve this problem starting really early,” Caire said.
The main problem the group is trying to tackle in reopening the day care concerns the racial disparities in the city, Caire said.
“If we really want to reduce these disparities that we see in education, if you want to give kids a really good head start so they can have a lifetime of success, you start early,” Caire said.
The building was built in 1969, and while it is solid, it needs some significant renovations. The One City Early Learning Center’s board is already planning to fix the roof, add windows and install an elevator, among other things.
The group has raised $300,000 so far, Caire said.
“The potential of serving the children in this community was just OK. We need to do this, we have to do this,” day care Director Marlo Mielke said. “So just looking at it, it’s like, ‘OK, I can visualize it being done and it being ready and then it being full of little kids.'”
Caire and Mielke plan to have the affordable child care center back open to families starting in September.
The center on Fisher Street has space for about 90 kids. The facility plans to eventually provide care for children 6 weeks to 5 years old.