The Children’s Center emphasizes commitment to the community

Published 5:51 am Friday, March 15, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

After discussions in recent weeks regarding child care in Albert Lea, The Children’s Center issued an update this week emphasizing its commitment to the community.

Noelle Viktora, chairwoman of The Children’s Center board of directors, said the organization is actively working on partnerships with community stakeholders to explore solutions and expand access to high-quality child care for all families who live and work in Albert Lea.

The statement comes after the Albert Lea school district has expressed concerns with its Tiger Cub Child Care Center. The district initially said it planned to close the Tiger Cub center at the end of the school year because of revenue-expense shortfalls, but at the end of February stated it would keep the center open through the end of the 2024-25 school year. It said it plans to recreate a working committee of city, county, school district, school board and parent/guardian representatives to work on a long-term plan for child care in Freeborn County.

Email newsletter signup

Viktora said the board recognizes that the child care shortage in the community affects not only families but the broader business community as well.

She shared several positive changes that had been made at The Children’s Center to enhance the quality and efficiency of the care provided.

First, she said the center implemented a new pay scale for its employees last year, raising pay between $1 and $6 an hour for employees, or over $200,000 a year.

This investment not only reflects our commitment to fair compensation but also ensures that we attract and retain the best talent to nurture and support our children,” Viktora said.

The organization has also made what she described as “significant strides” in optimizing operations, including refining staff scheduling models, enhancing parent communications and updating pricing models and food menus for the children.

Viktora said they continue to work with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, whose consultant is guiding them to create a clear vision and goals for the future of the center.

This strategic planning process will empower us to identify areas for growth and innovation, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of child care in Albert Lea,” she said.

The organization welcomed Dani Clevenger as the new executive director and is also renovating the second Children’s Center location at St. John’s Lutheran Community.

Viktora said they have temporarily closed that location while the updates occur and shifting families to the main Children’s Center site so no care is lost in the process.

The St. John’s site offers more than 40 spots for infants, toddlers and preschoolers in the community.

They plan to reopen that location later this year.

“As we embark on this exciting journey of growth and transformation, we invite you to join us in shaping the future of childcare in our community,” Viktora said. “Your continued support and involvement are instrumental in ensuring that every child at The Children’s Center receives the love, care and support they need to thrive.”