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June 5, 2014

Attempts to save Woods day care run out of time; closes today

TERRE HAUTE — After 27 years, the Woods Day Care/Pre-School is closing its doors today.

In March, the Sisters of Providence announced the day care/pre-school would close as the result of financial challenges and enrollment issues.

The program is a sponsored institution of the Sisters of Providence.

Some concerned parents had hoped to keep it open. “We tried, and there just wasn’t enough time,” said Grace Finley, who has taken her 4-year-old son there. “I’m disappointed. It was a great resource for the community to have.”

The community does not have an abundance of quality infant day care programs available to working professionals, she said.

“It will be hard to lose one of the highly rated ones and still attract young people to town when there is little selection for infant care,” she said.

Next fall, her son will attend an all-day preschool program at St. Patrick’s.

In explaining the closure in March, Sister Denise Wilkinson, Sisters of Providence general superior, had said the difference between tuition and expenses was about $180,000 to $200,000 annually, a figure that didn’t include services contributed by the Sisters of Providence.

Also, recent marketing efforts to increase enrollment had been unsuccessful, and the economic downturn in recent years negatively impacted the financial picture, Wilkinson had stated.

The Woods Day Care/Pre-School, which opened in 1987 with 19 children, reached a peak of 92 children in 2008. As of March, enrollment was 77 children and the program at that time had 26 paid employees — 22 of those full-time — as well as eight volunteer sisters and two lay volunteers.

Jason Moon, media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence, said Thursday that some commemorative activities have occurred. The sisters conducted a dinner for faculty and staff on May 29 at Owen Hall and presented each one with a memory book chronicling the 27-year history of the day care. The event was designed to express gratitude for the services of faculty and staff.

On Sunday, during a Sisters of Providence  Family Day event, a continuous slide show about the Woods Day Care/Pre-School will run from 1 to 4 p.m. at Providence Center.

At this time, there are no plans for what might become of the building that houses the program, Moon said.

In September 2004, Woods Day Care received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, becoming one of only a handful of centers in the community to earn the honor.

It also had a top, level 4 ranking under the state’s Paths to Quality program.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

 

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