New Beginning Early Learning Academy staff member Jimika Jones cradles Kadence Carter, 2 months, in the center’s infant room. The day care facility, the only one in Albany operating 24-hours a day, opened on North Monroe Street earlier this year. (Jennifer Parks)
ALBANY — Parents working evening shifts who have children 12-years-old or younger now have a place in central Albany to take their children.
New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church recently opened a 24-hour day care, the only one currently in existence in Albany, earlier this year.
Known as New Beginning Early Learning Academy, it is located at 210 N. Monroe St., directly across from the church and next door to its education center.
“We’ve got it set up to run 24/7,” said the Rev. Solomon Loud, the pastor of the church. “That’s part of the vision God has given me. One of the things parents struggle with who work evenings or weekends is reliable and safe child care. It’s to accommodate people.”
Loud said the building the day care is in now had been run-down, but was refurbished. On the facility grounds is an infant room for children ages 6 weeks to 18 months, rooms for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds, a room for children ages 4-12 years that is used before and after school as well as a playground. Each class has a lesson plan and recess time.
“It works as an education as well as a social outlet, especially for the families with only one child,” said Betty Wright, one of the day care directors.
In all, there were 34 children as of earlier this week being cared for by a staff of six people working on a part-time and full-time basis.
“We are giving hope to people who would otherwise be unemployed,” Loud said. “They are all qualified people with credentials. We are not just babysitting. This is an education facility.”
Services are also available to families on a drop-in basis, Loud said.
“If a family is doing something on a Saturday, there is a (drop-in) package for a family to bring in a child, and it works very well,” he said.
A final inspection was done on June 12. The center got a temporary license to operate on until the permanent one came in, and the facility was able to open its doors that afternoon.
The center is open to all families regardless of background, Loud said.
“We welcome all ethnic groups,” the pastor said. “It is for everyone. We don’t discriminate. We want parents to feel good about (dropping off and picking up their child).
“We want to be an area of pride.”
Loud’s wife, Flossie Loud, serves as the day care’s administrator, while New Beginning members Janice Martin-Owens and Wright serve as directors. Aside from those individuals, the center is staffed by those who are non-members of the church. Officials say that word about the center appears to be making its way around, which may lead not to just an increase in census — most likely on evenings and weekends — but also an increase in the number of jobs the facility creates.
“I am looking to hire 15-18 full- and part-time employees as we continue to grow,” Loud said.
At the rate things seem to be going, indications are the center may reach that point fairly soon as more parents working later shifts need a day care center that can accommodate their needs.
“Every day someone calls about a new shift and we are steadily enrolling,” Martin-Owens said. “It’s growing.”
Consequently, the teachers currently on staff have been kept busy.
“This was very much needed for parents with 12-hour shifts,” said Janette Farmer, the teacher of the center’s 2-year-old class. “It is convenient, and it opens up job opportunities (for parents).”
As the program expands, there is hope that a pre-kindergarten center may be added, the minister said.
The response so far to the day care, Loud said, has been good from all walks of life.
“It’s been very positive,” he said. “The black and white community (has seen) the work we have done in cleaning up the area.
“It’s been stated several times — the church is growing and we hope people stay here. We hope to continue to build the community.”
Loud said that the church has been active in more than just providing day care. In its education center, the church has several education classes — such as those on how to use a computer. Meanwhile, New Beginning is looking to add on to that by potentially establishing a General Educational Development (GED) school.
All of this, including the day care, is part of an overall goal for the community New Beginning is aiming to reach, Loud said.
“We believe in having a strong relationship with God and an education,” he said. “I believe if we do that a person’s future could be bright. We are working with people in Albany and Dougherty to make lives better. A single mother with an evening job and no child care … if they leave their children at home and something happens to them, they are considered unfit.”
An around-the-clock child care center has been tried at least one time in the past, but did not work. The changing times may be part of what will make a 24-hour day care model successful here this time, Loud said.
“Many years ago, children were kept at home in the evening — but we now find mothers and fathers working in the evening,” he said. “(The results) could be catastrophic if the children are left at home without a responsible person.
” … This gives a second chance for moms without child care, who struggle on whether to stay at home or go to work. It betters themselves and the lives of their children.”
More information on the day care, including attendance fees, can be obtained by calling (229) 878-0002.