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2:57 AM Sun, Nov. 18th

Continuing growth means more daycare facilities

Miner Photo/TERRY ORGAN
One-and-a-half year-old Cole Hassell rides a rocking duck in the toddler class at St. Johns United Methodist Church, which has a daycare program.

Miner Photo/TERRY ORGAN One-and-a-half year-old Cole Hassell rides a rocking duck in the toddler class at St. Johns United Methodist Church, which has a daycare program.

KINGMAN ­ Kingman may be a desirable community for retirees, but pressures on daycare facilities indicate more will be needed in the future as working-class parents settle here.

Grace Neal Preschool at St. Johns United Methodist Church is licensed for 154 children and is operating at capacity, preschool director Trudy Hicks said.

"There's a lot of need for infant (up to age 1) and toddler (ages 1-3) care in the community," she said.

"Our preschool program has been in place for 12 years and we've expanded it in the last couple of years. We built a new building because we used to be located in the Sunday School wing. The new building enables us to handle infants and toddlers, whereas before we had only children ages 3 and up."

Little Eagle Daycare and Preschool has operated in Kingman for more than 20 years. Andrea Coats bought it this past April.

"Our licensing permits 155 children, and we have 200 enrolled," she said. "We have a ratio we adhere to due to room size and number of teachers.

"We have kids that come before and after school as well as during the day. Some also come three days a week and not all five, so we never exceed our licensing limit."

Coats said she does not know if there is need for more daycare facilities here, as she doesn't know how fast Kingman is growing.

However, Joyce Holgate, director of Kingman High School's Little School program, has no doubt of the need for more daycare facilities. They need to be able to serve infants, toddlers, preschool and school-aged children, she said.

"Our community is spread out, but not everyone is looking for a center close to home," Holgate said. "Some people look for something close to work, which permits them a little more time with their child while commuting each day."

KHS Little School is licensed for 61 children, including 15 infants, 18 toddlers and 28 preschool-aged children. The program not only offers daycare, but also permits KHS students to work in it.

Through an articulation agreement with Mohave Community College's Tech Prep program, KHS students receive vocational training that earns them both high school and college credit, Holgate said.

She said the toddler room is running at capacity and enrollment was recently completed to put the infant room at capacity.

"Our Little School room (ages 3 and up) has some space available," she said. "But what I do there is instead of locking parents into a five-day-a-week schedule, I work with them on a variable schedule.

"If they work say Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work the child in those days based on needs of the parents. We have paid staff and our high school students come in as part of their course work and are assigned to different classroom areas."

Sharue Johnson has worked in the daycare field for the past 18 years, including the last 11 as owner of Crumb Crushers. Her facility is licensed to accommodate up to 70 children but presently is only about 30 percent full.

"The Boys & Girls Club has taken a big chunk out of our business," Johnson said.

"But we may have to expand our toddler room for ages 1-2 anyway. I'm looking at pulling in another teacher because that's where people are in need of daycare."

The Boys & Girls Club of Kingman offers after-school programs for children ages 6 and up.

Johnson said an after-school program with a different twist is needed in the community.

"My husband and I are talking about opening something where kids can come and play," she said. "I'm not talking about something structured like the school system, but a place where kids can run off energy until their parents come and get them. They need to run, play, jump, twirl and crawl like kids."