The Winter Park Day Nursery has its eyes set on the future — and it just made a pivotal step toward serving even more families.
Winter Park’s local nursery last month received a grant for $54,000 from Dr. Phillips Charities. It will be used to fund support, training and coaching to help the facility kick off a capital campaign in the near future.
The Winter Park Day Nursery officials hope to build a larger facility so it can meet the needs of more families in the area — and this grant is the first step in doing that, Executive Director Ali DeMaria said.
“The grant we’re receiving from the Dr. Phillips Charities is an amazing help toward getting us where we want to go over the next five years,” DeMaria said. “They’re going to be helping us put in place the elements of our strategic plan to be able to build our development and fundraising capabilities”
The nursery recognizes it serves an important function in the community for many families who are struggling financially, DeMaria said. The nursery offers early education to children ages 2 to 5 before kindergarten, which doesn’t come cheap.
“You’ll hear that the cost of child care for a year now rivals that of one year of college tuition and how expensive it’s getting and how much that costs,” DeMaria said. “About 70% of our families are at or below 200% of the federal poverty line, so what we do is we offer significant scholarships from 10% to 60% of the weekly fee. We provide that funding so they only have to pay a portion of the funding each week for the child to attend school. So we’re significantly reducing the cost for the family but still providing them that quality early childhood education that will help their child be successful when they enter kindergarten.
“That’s setting them up to be successful in school and to also be more successful past school.”
Beyond providing scholarships, the nursery also has access to crisis funds through other grants to support families facing poverty or homelessness.
Applying for the Dr. Phillips Charities grant and preparing for a future capital campaign are the first steps in a strategic plan the facility recently set for itself.
The ultimate dream? Getting a larger, up-to-date building and pool of reserve funds, DeMaria said. It’s something the nursery needs, because there’s not enough room for all the families in need of the services.
“Ultimately, we want to be able to serve more families,” DeMaria said. “We find ourselves with a continual wait list that matches or exceeds our enrollment capabilities. We’re looking to be able to support more families and more children who are in need of the services we can provide — to provide that high quality early childhood education at a cost the families can afford.”
DeMaria said the nursery hopes to launch a capital campaign sometime in 2020.