Quality Childcare Keeps Parents Working

Belchertown Day School
Belchertown, Massachusetts
Everyone understands that high-quality early childhood education supports children’s cognitive development and school readiness. But it’s critical for their parents, too. We spoke with Belchertown Day School Executive Director Pat Bruni about why — and about the tremendous impact of their new building.
Little girl smiles at Belchertown Day School
Now everyone will be under one roof, which is a huge plus.”
Pat Bruni
Executive Director, Belchertown Day School
Little girl hugging a stuffed animal at Belchertown Day School

How does access to childcare impact a family?

More and more, both parents are working. They need a program where they can drop their children off and not be worried, a program where their children can get their social and academic needs met. We have a waiting list of 30 for our toddler program.

LOAN for construction
8,600 sq. ft.
early-education facility

Is it even more important for families who are working their way out of poverty?

Absolutely. We’re the only nonprofit childcare in Belchertown, and 25% of our parents are low-income. Some are going to school full time. Some are single parents who are able to work because they have childcare. Our programs start at 15 months and go to age 12, so the children are able to stay with us a long time; that gives both the children and the parents stability.

Four little boys playing with blocks at Belchertown Day School

Is that how Belchertown Day School started?

We started out in an apartment in 1977. The need was strong enough that in the early 1980s the town constructed a building specifically for us to lease back from them for preschool classes.

Through the years, we added before-school, after-school, vacation-week and summer programs for school-aged children.

Then in 2017, the town wanted their building back and didn’t renew our lease.

Ouch. What did you do?

We started looking into a building of our own, where we could house all our programs and expand. We wrote a grant proposal, and we were picked.

But with the rising costs of building supplies we had to keep cutting items in order to meet the budget. Clearly, we needed more money. We reached out to the Children’s Investment Fund and BlueHub. Because of them we are able to move forward.

Little boy smiling while sitting at a desk at at Belchertown Day School

You mentioned a silver lining?

We are expanding our program, adding another toddler classroom. And we’re bringing our school-aged program in-house. Right now, we rent space, with the morning program at one elementary school, and the afternoon at another. The schools won’t let us in when they are closed, so there are gaps in services. But the parents still have to go to work! Now we’ll be able to offer snow days and vacation weeks; we’ll be able to operate throughout the whole year.

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