Day care dilemma: As Dayton latch key program ends, Boys & Girls Club could fill the void

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

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Jennifer Hamilton has always used the county's before- and after-school program as day care for her second-grade son, Nicholas Selb.

"We drop him off here at the school, then go to work and come back and get him. We know he's here and he's safe," she said. "It's convenient, affordable and he absolutely loves it."

But the county's Just Kids program was one of the services cut from last year's budget.

Funding will cease at the end of this school year.

"Without it, I don't have day care," Hamilton said.

However, a plan being presented Tuesday by the Mason Valley Boys & Girls Club could solve the problem.

Director Travis Crowder said he is looking to start a satellite club in Dayton to fill the gap.

"We're trying to see how much support we can get," Crowder said. "It depends on how much funding we can generate from the community to offset the cost."

The club would be run out of Dayton Elementary School, with students from the other sites being bused to and from there.

"Nowadays," Crowder said, "most clubs are starting in schools, building their base, then moving out from there."

A similar program is already being offered at Silver Springs Elementary School, where grant funding allowed the Boys & Girls Club to take over from the county. The staff was kept the same.

Crowder said it is going well there.

"There is a tremendous amount of support from the Lyon County School District," he said. "They have been more than accommodating to us. It makes total sense for us to use the buildings when they are not."

Sarah Wortman attended the latch key program as a kid, then volunteered several years before getting a job as a supervisor for the Dayton Elementary School program where she has worked for five years.

"It's somewhere the kids can go instead of being on the streets or sitting home watching TV," she said. "Here, they can play games, be with their friends and do their homework. I would hate to see the program go altogether."

If the Boys & Girls Club does take over, she said, she'd like to remain employed.

"I'm excited for the changes," she said.

Dorothy Atkins, whose son Cain Wills, 7, has been attending the program this year, is withholding judgment.

"I want the (current) latch key to continue," she said. "But I'll see what happens. Just as long as the employees stay."

The Boys & Girls Club held a community meeting in Dayton on March 3 to gauge interest. About 70 people attended, and residents Bobby Bean and Darren Kleen donated $1,000 each.

"We were very pleasantly surprised," Crowder said. "They really challenged the rest of the community to stand up and do the same."

At Tuesday's meeting, Crowder said, they will be encouraging individuals and businesses to support the cause.

"To be able to pull this off in a short amount of time, we really need the community to rally up," he said. "It takes a lot from the community, especially the stakeholders. But the payoff is incredible."

The program will cost between $150,000 to $200,000 annually to run.

The Healthy Communities Coalition will work to help establish an advisory board to oversee operations of the club in Dayton.

"They are great partners, so we want to see them succeed," said Christy McGill, director of the Healthy Communities Coalition, a nonprofit coalition of resource sharing in Lyon, Mineral and Storey counties. "We love the work they do in Yerington. We're excited to have the same kinds of programs here in Dayton."

Crowder agrees.

"We are doing everything we can to make it a reality," he said.


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