YMCA Announces Closure of Barker Child Care Center

The Door County YMCA Board of Directors announced June 30 that they will not resume childcare services at the Barker Child Development Center. The center discontinued operation of childcare at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in late March.

“To remain solvent and in business, the YMCA has had to make, and will continue to make, difficult staffing and program decisions,” said YMCA Director Tom Beerntsen. “Unfortunately, closing the Barker Center was one of these decisions. The board directed the YMCA to remain in the conversation on childcare in the community.”

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“This was a very difficult decision,” said Tom Beerntsen, Chief Executive Officer, Door County YMCA. “The board of directors and staff discussed every option. We reached out to past donors, local government entities, industrial leaders, foundations and sought grant funding. We met with a childcare facility in Green Bay to gauge their interest in expanding operations. We met with local individuals and organizations who have expressed interest in getting into the childcare business. Unfortunately, these efforts have not found a solution to offset the minimum projected losses for affordable, quality childcare.”

Since the inception of the program in 2012,  the Barker Child Development Center served six-week old babies through children four years of age. When Sturgeon Bay School began offering free all-day four-year-old kindergarten in 2015, Beernsten said it broke the business model for the center. He said the Barker Child Development Center incurred significant financial losses despite operating at full capacity.

“We are all saddened by the loss of this service because we are aware of the added stress this causes families,” said Mike Felhofer, president of the board. “Affordable childcare is not only a Door County problem, it’s a national problem.”