Hilltop’s child-care program to end in May
Kiddin' Around Learning Center has support, but it ‘hasn't been enough'
A 13-year-old child care program offered through the nonprofit organization Hilltop will close by May, according to Hilltop’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Stahl.
Kiddin’ Around Learning Center, located in a building attached to the Mesa County Workforce Center, 2897 North Ave., has an enrollment of 79 children, but that number includes children also enrolled in other, related Hilltop programs. The organization will attempt to incorporate the 10 employees who work there into some of Hilltop’s other 24 programs.
“This isn’t a program we want to close,” Stahl said. “We’ve been investing in that program for the last 13 years. We’ve received support. It just hasn’t been enough.”
Assessing the community need and financial viability of its programs is an ongoing effort, Stahl said.
As Hilltop is trimming back its child care offerings, it is expanding its senior services, including a memory care wing at The Commons to help adults who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. Hilltop is expanding other services for seniors, including Senior Daybreak and Generational Solutions.
Stahl said the decision by Hilltop’s board to close Kiddin’ Around was not made lightly, but it was in the best interest of the umbrella organization, which employs 550 people.
“We’d like to do everything for everybody, but we can’t,” he said.
Kiddin’ Around is operated with some funds from parents, School District 51 and state funds. The program was started after Ariel Clinical Services was unable to run its therapeutic child center, Stahl said.
Hilltop has been working to place children into other child care centers, and it has been able to find spaces for all but seven children.
Kiddin’ Around is expected to taper down by February and be closed by May, Stahl said. The related Colorado Preschool Program run by Hilltop is contracted with School District 51 and will continue through the school year. A drop-in child care program for parents who are accessing the Mesa County Workforce Center still will be operational, Stahl said. The Family First program, which offers parenting classes, will be combined with Hilltop’s Latimer House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Hilltop has been eyeing cuts to its child care program for the past two years, as the program has struggled financially, Stahl said.
Having a licensed child care facility in the building made it impossible to rent out the facility’s other space to some other types of outside uses. Now, Hilltop can rent out the space to other endeavors. Hilltop also is considering selling the building, Stahl said. The newly completed 29 Road overpass created a vital link between Interstate 70 Business and North Avenue, placing the building in a prime location for future development.