Rosh Hashanah is not yet upon us, but those who were planning to pray for a long life for the Gan Yeladim Day Care Centre may just have had their prayers answered in advance.
Last week, a spokesperson for the centre announced that the facility avoided closing its doors permanently at the end of July, as had been forecast only two months ago. Instead, an outreach campaign to donors and to families has proven successful, allowing the daycare to remain in operation for the foreseeable future.
“Gan Yeladim has been successful with our fundraising and marketing events, and we’ve recently hired a new director,” said Jonathan Parker, Gan Yeladim’s president of the board.
“Galina Bagga has a track record of success, and she is confident she can boost enrolment,” Parker said.
Bagga has worked as a music teacher in a Montessori school and has experience working with developmentally challenged children. She is expected to spearhead efforts to increase enrolment and ensure the facility is stabilized on a sound financial footing.
A drop in enrolment and the financial difficulties that followed were cited as key factors in plans to shut the daycare facility, which has been in operation for 36 years. It is located in rented space at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue, in the heart of Bathurst Manor.
Parents and staff were informed on June 1 that the facility would close unless a long-term trend of declining enrolment could be reversed. At the time, enrolment sat at a little more than 40, and during the summer, the number dropped to between 25 and 35. The daycare is licensed to care for up to 55 youngsters, aged 18 months to five, Parker told The CJN.
Parker traced the daycare’s decline to the death five years ago of the facility’s executive director, Shelley Wise.
With declining enrolment, the facility faced an existential crisis, but parents formed two committees to try to save the non-profit organization.
One committee focused on marketing, the other on fundraising. Gan Yeladim received enough pledges of support and of money that it became feasible to remain open, even if it operates at a loss for a couple of months, Parker said.
Parker believes that with the addition of new director, coupled with the daycare’s Judaic content, kosher food and access to the synagogue, families in and around Bathurst Manor will see it as an attractive alternative for their children.
Bagga, who has worked as an RECE (reconceptualizing early childhood education) teacher and supervisor, said, “I’ll be first making sure that [the daycare centre] complies in a timely manner with all requirements under the Child Care and Early Years Act, and I will be building the trust of current and prospective clients and parents in believing that Gan Yeladim is going to continue providing high-quality education and care for every child.
“I’ll be continuing to support the Jewish culture and traditions working at Gan Yeladim,” she added.
Parker said some families were waiting to see how the centre’s future unfolded, and they are expected to return to the fold in the next few months.
Nevertheless, “we’re prepared to operate at a loss” for a few months as the daycare gears up, he said.
“We have the financing, so that we can operated successfully from November and for the next 36 years.”