April 15, 2024

Greater Connections aims for summer opening

After years of service, a Creston staple will be getting an upgrade.

This summer, I Think I Can Childcare Center will be switching to a new name and location. Becoming Greater Connections Childhood Development Center, it will be at 1405 N. Lincoln St. across from Southern Prairie Family Fitness Center.

Melissa Zellmer, director of I Think I Can and the new Greater Connections, is excited for the new services that will be offered alongside the daycare’s current activities.

“My vision for the future is to provide childcare while meeting children at their developmental level versus their chronological age so we can best serve they children where they are,” Zellmer said. “We are trying to empower children to do what they can for themselves.”

Zellmer explained outside of playtime and academic learning, such as the alphabet and days of the week, the children also are learning life skills.

“They want to help,” Zellmer said. “They want to be able to do things for themselves. We are just trying to support them as they continue on their goal of child development.”

However, this new focus isn’t what caused I Think I Can to seek a new location.

“Our daycare has been here for 30-plus years; it’s served our community for a very long time,” Zellmer said. “Our building is ready to retire.”

In addition to age, the new building will be larger and available to more families.

“At the new location, we will be licensed for about 177,” Zellmer said. “That may change once the construction is done, but tentatively we’re looking at that child range.”

This is a change from the maximum of 111 children at the South Cherry Street location. However, filling the new daycare center is not a priority to Zellmer. Instead, she simply wants to provide more resources to the families that need them.

Another reason to for the new building was the location.

“One of the questions that the hospital had asked their employees was what they needed,” Zellmer said. “They had said, ‘We need childcare.’ The goal now is to help provide that childcare.”

There have been many pieces to putting together the new Greater Connections center. One piece still in the works is staffing.

“As we continue to accept new children, we are constantly needing more staff,” Zellmer said. “We need more staff to make sure that we are meeting the ratios. For safety and security, I like to have an extra staff on hand that can be an extra set of hands.”

The ratio Zellmer talks about refers to the Department of Health and Safety’s staff to child ratio. This ratio depends on the age of the children, ranging from one staff for every four children under two, to one staff for every fifteen children five and over.

The goal for the opening date of Greater Connections is the summer of 2023. Zellmer assures parents that the building will be open before the 2023/24 school year starts.

“I tell people that we will be open somewhere between the end of this school year and the beginning of the next school year,” Zellmer said. “At this point, construction is pretty much on track.”

Families interested in learning more about the new Greater Connections location are asked to contact Zellmer at the South Cherry Street location of I Think I Can.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.