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Child Care Crisis: Little Antlers Learning Center

Published Monday Mar 25, 2024

Author Sheryl Rich-Kern

The lack of child care in the Plymouth area and its economic impact on the community led to grantors and foundations backing the expansion of a small, onsite day care at Mid-State Health Center in Plymouth, originally conceived in 2007 as an employee perk. An injection of capital from two Community Development Block grants—$500,000 for public facilities and $470,000 for economic development—fueled the renovation. A variety of other sources, including the Northern Border Regional Commission and Community Development Finance Authority tax credits, also contributed.

In exchange for the funds, Little Antlers pledged to allocate 51% of its slots to families falling within the low- to moderate-income bracket. The new 8,400-square-foot facility opened its doors to the community in August 2022 and rebranded as the Little Antlers Learning Center, tripling its capacity from 20 to 60 slots. Those slots filled quickly, and more than 200 families are on the wait list. 

Alison Murphy, who directs the child care center, points out that while state-sponsored child scholarships help many families, those who don’t qualify for aid also struggle.

“We’ve had some families go to part time here or keep their kiddos home because they can’t afford full-time care,” she says. The center is raising funds for a tuition assistance program.

Keeping the center fully staffed for 10 hours a day amid COVID outbreaks and other illnesses is one of the bigger challenges of running the center. Murphy says she’s fortunate the day care is under the umbrella of a larger organization, allowing her to offer full-time benefits, paid time off and staff development. Teachers can enroll their own young children at Little Antlers at no cost.

For main Child Care Crisis Story click here.

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