SALT LAKE CITY — Kearns-St Ann School is bringing back a year-round child care center that will serve teachers and parents of students at the school, along with the greater community.
When the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word owned and operated CHRISTUS St. Joseph Villa, which is near St. Ann Parish, they constructed a building on the parish property. According to the terms of that agreement, if the Villa were ever sold to a different entity, the building and its contents would revert back to the parish and become a year-round day care center for children age infant to 3 years old. However, when the Villa was sold in 2011, the decision was made to close the day care center because it was not financially feasible, according to Utah Catholic Schools Superintendent Mark Longe.
Since then the building has served a variety of purposes, while Kearns-St Ann School has been operating a modified day care program for about 25 children in the main building. Now, with a need among Catholic community members for quality day care for their children, school and diocesan officials feel the time is right to re-open the year-round center.
“The parents and people coming in are demanding quality child care,” Longe said. “A lot of our parents have to take their younger children a different place while their older children are enrolled in the school. ‘Why not make child care part of the program as it is in some of our other schools?’ we thought.”
Currently, Guardian Angel Daycare serves the St. John the Baptist school community in Draper, Blessed Beginnings Daycare opened last September at Blessed Sacrament School in Sandy, and the Nano Nagle Children’s Center provides the same services at St. Vincent de Paul School in Salt Lake City.
“As much as possible they infuse Catholic values into the program,” Longe said. “It is very convenient for parents to have the day care center located on the site of the school and to have it be part of that community.”
Each school offers education for students in pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, allowing children grow from day care to elementary school on the same campus.
The new program at Kearns-St. Ann is expected to open by Aug. 1. At that time the children in the existing program in the school will move into the new building. The center will have the capacity to serve 35 children: eight infants, 14 2-year-olds and 14 3-year-olds. The program will be play-based but will feature instruction in pre-math and pre-language arts along with the reinforcement of simple religious principles, Director Katlin Dignam said.
The program has three full-time and two part-time teachers and Dignam is in the process of hiring three more.
Dignam, who has worked in child care for 10 years and has been center director at the school this past school year, is being mentored by Jeramie Green, the director of the Nano Nagle Children’s Center.
“I have a real trust in this early childhood center because we are pulling people from existing ones in the area to be our guides and mentors,” said Susan Nakaba, who began as the school principal on July 2. “We’re also going forward with the existing staff who have done a really good job.”
Year-round hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and rates will be comparable to those of day care centers in the local community.
“I think it will be great,” Dignam said of the expanded program and move to the new building. “The set-up is perfect for a child care center. We will have our own playground and plenty of room to grow. The staff is really excited.”
While the center will be open to all, slots will first be offered to teachers and parents of students in the school, then the parish, other Catholics and, if space is still available, to non-Catholics.
“I’m excited about this new program,” Longe said. “This seems to be the trend in Catholic schools across the country, to help working parents with their children, to provide quality, safe day care in a Catholic setting.”
For information about the Kearns-St. Ann School day care, contact Dignam at 801-864-1876.