Organizations to partner to offer all-inclusive day care

By Christian Alexandersen Times Staff Writer Carroll County Times |

Parents of children with disabilities may have an easier time finding child-care services in Carroll County as two organizations prepare to create an all-inclusive day care program in Westminster.

On Thursday, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners approved a land request from The Arc Carroll County to move its bus operations to a two-acre piece of land behind the facility on Kriders Church Road. By moving its bus operations, The Arc and Carroll Child Care Center will have enough space to accommodate parking for a new day care program.

The program, which would be housed at The Arc???s facility, would be open for children with and without disabilities, according to Don Rowe, the director of The Arc.

The Arc, a nonprofit organization that champions for and supports people with developmental disabilities, is in the beginning stages of its talks with the Carroll Child Care Center. No timelines has been set for when the program may begin, he said.

???We believe this is a good project for both organizations,??? Rowe said during Thursday???s commissioners meeting. ???What this does for The Arc is helps us better serve some of our constituents, some young families that have children that may need services.???

Having a child-care program that can care for all kids is a big benefit to Carroll parents that have children both with and without disabilities, according to Lynn Davis, president of The Arc Carroll County Board of Directors.

But before the day care program can begin, a lot of work still needs to be done, Rowe said. The organizations must have more discussions on how it plans to partner together. Everything, Rowe said, is in the preliminary stages.

Rowe said that he didn???t want to go too far into the planning process for the program without first knowing whether he would have the parking space to handle additional cars. With that now settled, Rowe said The Arc will hire a company to build a gravel parking lot at the newly acquired space. Rowe estimated that it would cost about $50,000 to building the parking lot.

The Arc has 37 buses it uses to transport children with disabilities to school, Rowe said. Those buses need to be relocated to another parking lot in order for the organization to have enough parking space for day care workers and parents, he said. Had the county not leased the land to The Arc, Rowe said he doesn???t think he would have enough space for the program.

The board voted 4-0 on Thursday to lease the two-acres of land for 10 years with two five-year extensions. Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, R-District 1, was not in a portion of Thursday???s meeting and could not vote on the land request.

While the two-acre portion of land is owned by the county, it is technically located in the city of Westminster???s boundaries, according to Steve Powell, chief of staff for the board of commissioners. Any issues The Arc may have, including zoning and traffic easements, must be handled with the city and not the county, Powell said.

The Arc must also look into the cost of renovating the inside of its Westminster facility in preparations of the day care program, Rowe said. Representatives from The Arc have already visited one day care facility in Montgomery County to determine how to renovate its facility and make it safe for an all-inclusive day care, Rowe said. It is too early in the process to determine what portions of the building needs to be renovated and how much it will cost, he said.

Reach staff writer Christian Alexandersen at 410-857-7873 or christian.alexandersen@carrollcountytimes.com.