All God’s Children to open child care center for southern Albemarle, neighboring counties

The All God’s Children Child Development Center is gearing up to open in late August, filling a gap in child care services in the Scottsville area.

Located on the newly renovated first floor of Christ Church Glendower, the center will serve families in southern Albemarle, as well as Buckingham, Fluvanna and Nelson counties.

All God’s Children also runs Little Learners of Tri-County, a preschool at Yancey Elementary School that is supported by Albemarle County Public Schools and the Club Yancey after-school program.

“Going into the Yancey program, I was amazed to see how [age] 3 is such a critical year,” said Chris Yates, vice president of All God’s Children and a member of Christ Church. “What a great experience; they really blossom.”

Yates and the rest of the board of directors, a group with backgrounds in education and local government, perceived a need for more high-quality preschool and day care capacity in the southern part of Albemarle and surrounding areas. The child development center is in the middle of an approximately 25-mile gap in preschool and day care coverage, Yates said.

The renovation of Christ Church began two years ago. The church has an older population and limited space needs, and they ultimately offered All God’s Children the entire first floor rent-free.

All of us have a dream of this being a community experience — something the community can be involved in and support.

Renee Lundgren

The board of directors and volunteers from the community performed most of the renovations themselves, painting and refurnishing the space and improving its safety and security features.

A grant from the Burne Carter Foundation helped pay for the installation of a modern septic system. They also built a large fenced-in playground, and the open area behind the church might eventually be turned into an additional space for outdoor activities.

“We’re doing this in the interest of filling a need and producing a quality product,” said Lucian Jackson, a board member who was initially involved in the Yancey preschool program. “We’ve crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’ to always prioritize safety and quality over profit.”

Board member Renee Lundgren praised the collaborative nature of the project. Lundgren is a family support worker with Albemarle’s social services department.

“All of us have a dream of this being a community experience — something the community can be involved in and support,” said Lundgren. “Everyone has something they can offer, and the project connects communities together.”

Lundgren helped the board foster a positive relationship with Albemarle’s social services department, which the board cited as instrumental to the project’s success. The department first identified the need for better child care in the area during focus-group studies about 10 years ago, Lundgren said.

Yates also expressed appreciation for the support of former Supervisor Jane Dittmar and current Supervisor Rick Randolph, both of the Scottsville District. Government support helped the board obtain a special-use permit for the church, a necessary step in opening a licensed child care facility.

The center will be open to children 6 weeks old through the time they start kindergarten. Three connected rooms lined with cribs and interactive toys will be used for babies and toddlers, with one larger room for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Program director Taryn Evans has led the search for staff and will conduct training. All staff will be required to participate in certified continuing education programs, as well. Evans, who lives in Scottsville, has 15 years of experience in early childhood education.

“[The center] feels like a home now, and a family, unlike in a lot of the corporate-level child care providers,” Evans said.

Yates said he was pleased that the center would be a source of local employment.

“We’re going to be a job source for the area. We’re not going to make any money, but we’re going to create eight to 10 jobs,” he said.

All God’s Children is a nonprofit corporation, and its programs have a tiered fee system based on a child’s age and how many days a week they attend. The board’s fundraising efforts are ongoing, and they hope to raise enough money to establish a scholarship fund to help families who do not qualify for government support and cannot afford the full tuition.

Nine families have expressed interest in enrolling so far, and the center has a maximum capacity of 34. The program at Yancey began with only one participant before expanding to six in its first year. For the coming school year, the program will hit capacity, with 18 children enrolled.

The All God’s Children Child Development Center will make use of the Creative Curriculum for Toddlers/Preschool, a popular program also used by Head Start that the board settled on after extensive research. The curriculum is non-religious, and board members said they will seek a staff with diverse backgrounds.

“It takes a diverse group to do it. Everyone will be very hands-on, directly interacting with families,” Yates said.

Albemarle officials will conduct their final inspection of the facilities around Aug. 15, and the center expects to open shortly thereafter.