Seven months after a rural Florence couple had an idea to help parents — and the community — children play and make crafts inside cheerful rooms of a child care center for which work and planning began in March.
Six little ones are enrolled so far in the center which is licensed for 29 children, Flint Hills Child Care Center director Cassandra Cruz said.
Four cribs await four infants the center is licensed to take.
A shortage of child care in Marion County is evident. One set of parents bring their children from Hillsboro then return to their hometown to work, she said.
Hillsboro’s largest child care center to date is booked full, and a second large child care center is being worked on.
Things are going well so far, Cruz said.
“We’re just getting into a routine,” she said.
On Thursday, four children were at the center making crafts, playing with toys, and interacting with two teachers in a bright and cheerful room.
Outside, a fenced playground waited for children to come out.
The Florence center is housed in a former special education building. Many donations and hours of volunteer labor went into getting it open a month ago.
Walls were cleaned, broken windows had to be repaired, ceiling tiles were replaced, and wet wood was removed from the building’s basement before mold was abated. All of that had to be done before other work could begin.
A visit to Burdick several months ago gave rural Florence resident Les Allison and his wife the idea to develop the child care center for Florence.
The Allisons met a nurse who worked in Emporia but moved to Burdick because that’s where she could find child care.
The couple thought Florence could use both child care and a population influx it might bring.
Allison, who is associated with a non-profit agency in Wichita, decided to do what he knows best — connect people with resources.
He searched for a building in Florence, formed a board of directors, and incorporated a 501(c)3 non-profit called Flint Hills Child Care Corp.
The center opened Oct. 9.
More information is available at (620) 951-3002.