Goessel child-care program aimed at area shortage

Goessel parents will soon have another alternative for care of their children after school with the start of the Joyful Noise Community Childcare Center’s after-school program.

“There is kind of a two-fold program going on,” said Linda Rath, day-care organizer.

One component will be an after-school program starting when school begins in mid-August. It will be held at the grade school for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The program will begin when the school day ends and it will last until 6 p.m. Because school facilities are being used, the program is open only to students in the Goessel school district.

The focus will include tutoring and developing large and fine motor skills. Children also will have the opportunity to play on the playground and in the gym.

The day care component of the program, intended for infants through sixth grade, will not be available as quickly because more work must be done.

“We hope to have the day care on line in early winter, around the first of the year,” Rath said.

The Joyful Noise Community Childcare Center’s day-care program is open to any child. Children will be admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Rath said they will not know how many children the day care can serve until the building is finished and then licensed.

The building, which served as the Goessel clinic, was donated by physician Stephen Cranston.

Wallis Schultz donated his time to work on the architecture for the building. The community can help with the remodeling by donating time or materials.

The day care will provide qualified and trained staff who will entertain the children with age-appropriated developmental activities. The children also may take some field trips.

Currently, organizers are in the process of interviewing candidates to fill the director’s position.

Rath said Goessel has needed a day-care option for some time. “There is a lack of day-care facilities of any kind, either private home or community wide,” she said.

Rath said Hesston, located only a few miles down the road, runs all year with a waiting list of children, and Newton Medical Center basically provides services only to its employees.

“In this three-county area, there is a shortage of day care,” she said.

The day care and after-school program is a result of several organizations working together.

“It came out of the Alexanderwohl (Mennonite Church) Outreach Committee,” Rath said. The committee identified a need for child care in the community and around the county.

The Goessel Ministerial Association also is involved with the day care.

Planning for the new programs began late last fall and early winter. Surveys for the after-school program were sent out in spring.

Organizers held a community meeting in June to provide information and answer questions. Rath said the meeting was well attended.

A board of five community members oversees the programs. Angie Duerksen has been hired to help with licensing and other concerns.

The programs are being funded through donations. Organizers have also applied for grants.

Area churches have ongoing programs and have dedicated some offering money to the project.

Program organizers also plan a variety of fund-raisers.

Proceeds from a community-wide sloppy joe dinner at 6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 6, in the Goessel Park will go toward purchasing playground equipment for the day care.

“We have had inquiries from the Hillsboro area and as far away as McPherson about (the program),” Rath said.

She said a lot of people drive past Goessel along K-15 Highway on their way to jobs in Newton or Hesston, making Goessel a convenient location for such a program.

After-school registration is now available. Those interested in an information packet should contact Angie Duerksen at 316-367-2654. Registration for families is by appointment. A table also will be set up at the district’s school registration sessions Aug. 7 and 8.

A waiting list for the day care will be started in late September or early October.

Fees for the programs are based on a sliding scale; a break is given to parents who only need after-school care for less than an hour.

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