YMCA of the Northwoods eyes new child care facility that would double current capacity Submitted: 11/06/2019
Story By Stephen Goin

YMCA of the Northwoods eyes new child care facility that would double current capacity
RHINELANDER - More than 50 families in Oneida County were at a loss when Minocqua's Rocking Horse Child Care Center and Preschool shut down November 1. The closure of that facility is part of a greater trend being felt around Northern Wisconsin. 

Families in Rhinelander could see some relief as early as next spring with child care expanding through YMCA of the Northwoods. The Y announced Wednesday it's planning to buy the old South Park School on Pelham St. for a new child care center.

Previously, the building was occupied by Bethesda's Rhinelander Community Life Center.

"Through this project we will look at doubling the capacity of child care here in the Rhinelander community," said YMCA CEO Ryan Zietlow.

The new facility would replace the Y's current child care center on Dorr St. Zietlow said the former school provides more space for kids to play both outdoors and inside an indoor gymnasium.

"They'll get all of the hands-on learning, nurturing and care in their classrooms," said Zietlow "We also have a space indoors for gross motor development, so we're very excited for the gymnasium."

According to the Center for American Progress, the majority of people in Oneida County live in a child care desert. The lack of child care can be discouraging for families who want to come to Northwoods for work.

"If, in fact, the child care is not available that really puts a huge strain on a family moving in," said Grow North Executive Director Brittany Beyer.

At $1,000 a month, the average cost of infant care in Wisconsin can add to strain of seeking child care in a community with few options.

"We are already beginning more conversations about how can we make it [child care] more affordable," said Zietlow.

Zietlow said the YMCA will consider child care subsidies but local business should also make an effort to help through employee benefits.

"There is room for investment in child care to make if affordable and quality for all of us," said Beyer. 

If all goes as planned, the YMCA's new child care center will open next spring or summer.

Zietlow said the community will be asked the help pay for the cost of renovations and address other community needs.

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