A neighborhood area in central Warrenton is getting a new daycare service oriented toward serving lower income families.Good Shepherd Early Learning Center is taking over the former office of Warren …
A neighborhood area in central Warrenton is getting a new daycare service oriented toward serving lower income families.
Good Shepherd Early Learning Center is taking over the former office of Warren County Handicapped Services, located at the corner of Lakeview Drive and First Street, less than a block east of Highway 47.
The Warrenton Board of Aldermen voted unanimously on March 15 to allow the new use for the building, which is on the outer edge of a large area of residential housing. The daycare building, which is retrofitted from its original purpose as a chapel, is currently owned by nonprofit agency Warren County Developmental Disabilities Board.
Cortaiga Collins, executive director of another nonprofit, the Foundation For Strengthening Families, told city officials earlier this month that her group wants to occupy the building in order to provide high-quality early childhood education to area residents.
“Specifically, those who meet low-income standards. We intend to offer childcare subsidy slots to families,” Collins explained. “Our organization has been providing services in Warren County since June of last year, and it’s been my understanding that a lot of the families are hard pressed to find high-quality early childhood care that will accept childcare subsidies.”
Along with assisting in childcare, the Foundation for Strengthening Families aims to aid struggling families by connecting them with community resources and providing education that will help them build a stronger future, according to the organization’s website.
Collins said an early investment into children’s education, exploration and creativity provides benefits for individuals, families, and whole communities.
“That’s where your engineers are born, your doctors, your architects,” Collins explained. “For every $1 that you invest in early childhood, it’s something like a $14 return (for the community).”
The daycare organization received very little concern from city officials, other than questions about how traffic would be managed and minor details about the building’s site plan.
The approval for the Good Shepherd daycare technically required an adjustment to Warrenton’s zoning code to reclassify the property for commercial use, along with a site plan approval and a conditional use permit from the board of aldermen.
Alderman Jeff Jaspering asked why the new business had to jump through so many hoops for approval, when their daycare service is so similar to the previous occupants, who were classified as an adult daycare.
“Why do they have to go through all this if there was already one there before? If it was ok then, why do we have to rezone it now?” Jaspering asked.
City Attorney Christopher Graville replied that the Handicapped Services facility existed prior to a city restriction on daycares in residential zones, meaning the service was “grandfathered” and allowed to continue there until it changed hands to a new business.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the former Handicapped Services building was retrofitted from a house. It was formerly a chapel. We apologize for this error.