DUNDEE, N.Y. (WETM) – 40 years ago, lifelong town resident Jaimi Shoemaker, attended the Dundee Children’s Center when she was little. But now, sending her kids there may not be an option anymore.
“It’s the only [child before/aftercare] center in our community,” said Shoemaker.
Dundee Children’s Center is open 6 am-6 pm, serving children ages 3-12 in the Dundee Central School District. They host a 3-K preschool program during the day, as well as a before and aftercare, and a summer program, all of which are free.
Parents, who already had plans for summer enrollment, were given just two-months notice of the Children Center’s shutdown set for June 22nd.
“The first time we’d heard anything about this was on April 25th when we dropped our children off that day and we were handed a letter,” said Katie Cook, parent to a daughter attending Dundee Children’s Center.
That letter said the closing is due to staffing issues and a lack of volunteers for the Center’s Board of Directors. Parents say these issues were never brought to their attention, and that they are more than willing to help.
In an email to the Board, Shoemaker said, “I am offering to assist as a volunteer and have heard from others in the community who are willing to assist as well.” She even began the process of forming an interim Board of Directors to take over operations for the center.
However, according to parents, the directors are declining the helping hands.
Shoemaker says the response was a firm, ‘No, thank you.’
In a statement made to 18 News, the Dundee Children’s Center Board of Directors said, “The Board has been and continues to provide the best for the community. As this situation is not ideal at the present moment, during our continued operations, we are still exploring every opportunity.”
The next closest childcare program like this is over 20 minutes away.
“[Without it] I would honestly have to either consider moving her to another location outside of Dundee or consider a career change because there are no after-school care options other than the Dundee Children’s Center,” said Cook.
Parents say the Center is a great asset to the community, especially for working parents. The Center has the added plus of a bussing system, taking children to and from school.
“Which is just a huge help to parents who have full-time jobs, who, maybe, start early in the morning and can’t be there for when their child gets on the bus,” said Shoemaker.
Parents have created a Facebook group called ‘Save Dundee Children’s Center’ in hopes to spread awareness.
“To get the information out that the Center needs the help… and to give this community a chance to help,” said Shoemaker.