Staff at Above All Beginnings expressed frustration last week regarding the childcare center’s immanent closure.
News of the closure, delivered with two and a half weeks notice, was a surprise, reported Karla Dannenmueller, opening manager and lead teacher at Above All Beginnings.
“We knew we had a mandatory staff meeting,” she said. “When Amy [Germain, the center’s director] sat down — I’ve known her for 20 years and she’s not a very emotional person — she put her face in her hands and when she looked up she had tears in her eyes.
“I looked around at our girls,” Dannenmueller continued, referring to the 20 staff, most less than 26 years old. “They were all crying. I look at them as my own children. The mama bear in me kicked in. They’d been talking about this for seven months and gave us two and a half weeks notice. Why couldn’t they have involved Amy?”
In an earlier statement to the Sun, Grace Church leaders said establishing a time frame to inform staff and families of the closure had been difficult, as they hoped to keep the center fully staffed until the final day of business, June 28.
According to Dannenmueller, more transparency in the process would have allowed staff to assert their desire to stay until the end.
“Now we’re showing them that we’re in it for the long haul,” she said. “A lot of us do have jobs lined up after this. And a lot of families are keeping their kids here until the center closes so the staff will have their jobs.”
Dannenmueller noted staff felt left in the dark about the rationale behind the church’s decision. They were told only that the center was no longer part of the church’s vision, she reported.
“A meaningful explanation would have helped a lot,” she said, “And more notice. We could have had something up and going. There are quite a few of us trying to help families through this.”
Approximately 50 families with 80 children served by Above All Beginnings were left searching for childcare options, with few obvious choices available.
Grace Church, in its statement to the Sun, acknowledged the impact on families and staff, saying, “we do genuinely empathize with you.”
Dannenmueller also voiced concern that area residents were under the impression the center’s staff had decided to close the establishment.
“It was the church’s decision,” she said. “We didn’t want this. … I’ve been here 11 years. This staff is like family.
“Even with what’s going on the atmosphere is so positive,” she continued. “They come in every day. They’re loving these kids, teaching these kids.”