Northern Door Children’s Center has kicked off phase II of its capital campaign to meet the growing demand for child care in the area.
The center launched the public phase of the campaign in mid-October in which it aims to raise the final $1.25 million of its $3.6 million campaign to improve its Sister Bay facility.
“Phase one was primarily an expansion,” said executive director Cindy Trinkner-Peot. “Phase II includes some expansion, but it’s primarily a reconfiguration and renovation of the original 1999 building.”
The building originally had a capacity of 112 kids. The four-year-old kindergarten expansion completed in 2022 raised the capacity to 130, and when the final phase is completed, the center will be able to serve as many as 160 children. The project will reconfigure space to be more flexible as far as which age groups the center can serve, particularly in the infant and toddler spaces.
“For infants and toddlers, the maximum class size is eight children, no matter how large the room is or how many teachers you have,” Trinkner-Peot said. “So we need to have more spaces, so that if we have demand for infants we can use it for that, but if next year we have demand for more toddlers we can switch it.”
The renovation will also expand the center’s kitchen, common areas, library and offices.
Demand for child care was growing even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Trinkner-Peot said, but the influx of families that relocated to Door County during the pandemic brought a new surge.
“We served more children last summer – 152 – than we’ve ever served here,” she said.
That included a jump in older children in the Camp Cool summer program from 39 kids to 58.
The increase in families with young children isn’t anecdotal. In 2010, the census counted just 22 children in Sister Bay under the age of 5. In 2020, that number grew to 101.
Trinkner-Peot came to the center in March of 2000 and said there has not only been a surge in students, but a change in the needs of the parents raising children within the community.
“What happened during the pandemic is people moved here who are working remotely and working a five-day, 9-5 traditional job,” she said. “When I started here it was mostly service-industry parents. Maybe mom worked only in the summer, but dad worked year round, but on weekends he was home, so they needed to cobble together part-time daycare. We offer a lot of part-time, but we don’t see as much of that anymore. We have a lot more five-day-a-week families.”
Northern Door Children’s Center kicks off the public fundraising portion of its capital campaign with an Open House Nov. 11, 12 – 3 pm.
The event will include informational sessions, tours of the facility, food and beverages. Childcare is not provided, but there will be a room for children to play in while supervised by a family member. The Northern Door Children’s Center is located at 10520 Judith Blazer Dr. in Sister Bay.