Center opens for day care in Meade Village

April 22, 1994|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Sun Staff Writer

It's not easy pulling off a dignified opening ceremony with a dozen children scooting around and whining, "I want some c-a-a-a-k-e!"

But state and county officials did the best they could. And given the nature of the new venture -- Grandma's House at Meade Village -- most didn't seem to mind the frequent interruptions from their diminutive guests.

Grandma's House, a day care project sponsored by a half-dozen local, state and federal agencies, officially opened yesterday. The center has been accepting children since mid-February. Eventually, 75 to 100 children, ages 2 to 12, will be able to stay at Grandma's House. Ten children are currently enrolled in the program for 2- to 5-year-olds.

In the next few months, the staff plans to double the number of children in full-time day care, start before- and after-school programs and open a Head Start center.

"There's really little day care available in this area, unless you find a neighbor or someone to take your kids," said Sherryl Harold, president of the Meade Village Resident Council. "This is filling a really important need . . . especially for parents who need to look for jobs or go to school, like the teen-aged mothers."

The Grandma's House at Meade Village is the second to open in the county. The other opened in 1991 in the Robinwood development in Annapolis. Both are designed to bring low-cost, quality day care to county families living in public housing.

The Meade Village center, located in a building donated by the Anne Arundel County Housing Authority, was once a Little Hammy Day Care center. That center went out of business in December.

If not for Grandma House, day care would be hard to find, said several mothers, whose children attend the center.

Nichele Williams, a Meade Village resident, has started cosmetology school since enrolling Kierra, 2, and Mark, 5, at the center. She said she would have started school earlier, but couldn't find reliable care.

"This is a very good program," she said. "I'm very happy with it."

Danielle Alexander, a student at Meade High School, enrolled her 2-year-old daughter, Atia, in the center six weeks ago. Although Ms. Alexander has day care available at high school, that option is not available after graduation. She transferred Atia to Grandma's House, hoping to use the center for the next four years while she's in college, studying to be an occupational therapist.

"I think it's better quality here and they'll take [day care] vouchers," she said, referring to the public assistance program that helps pay for day care expenses.

Although many private day care centers accept vouchers, parents often have to make up the difference between the vouchers' value and the full cost, said Carlesa Finney, chairwoman of the board of directors at Grandma's House.

Because the center's overhead is partially covered by the Housing Authority, federal grants, the state Department of Social Services and private donations, the staff can accept whatever ,, the mothers get in vouchers as full payment.

Although Meade Village residents get first priority for the center's slots, Ms. Finney said surrounding communities, such as nearby Pioneer City, also will be able to use Grandma's House once all the center's services are up and running.

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