This year, Mount Jefferson Child Development Center celebrates its 40th year serving Ashe County's working families with five-star-rated child care.
”We've had generations here, that's for sure,” said Director Becky Goss, who has worked at MJCDC for 29 years.
A reunion and celebration will be held from 2-4 p.m. Saturday Aug. 17, for former students, parents, teachers, directors and board members. The event will feature games and prizes for children, raffles, a 50/50 drawing and a silent auction, with free food provided — hot dogs, sides and drinks.
The center, which is open year-round, has an enrollment of 100 children six weeks to five years old, and has provided care for approximately 85 kids per day for the last three years, Goss said.
Opening in 1973, MJCDC was created by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission as part of the Appalachian Day Care Program.
In 1984, the MJCDC was in danger of losing its funding, and the community petitioned the Ashe County Board of Commissioners to take over funding of the center. The county owned and operated MJCDC until June 2007, when the center became a non-profit.
“Almost all our staff stayed when we changed from the county to a 501(c)3, even though they had to take pay cuts,” said Goss.
The center has operated at the same location since 1973. Built in the late 1940s, the building was formerly part of the Old Hospital complex. The center now leases the building from the county.
“We are filled to capacity,” Goss said.
The center is not entirely self-supporting, Goss said. While parent fees provide some funding, the center also uses state subsidies, grants and occasional donations, and also does some fund raising.
“Daycare's expensive, but there's very little money on the other side,” said Board Member Vickie Young.
In September 2009, MJCDC was donated a 2.25-acre parcel of land on Mt. Jefferson Road, Young said. The center is now trying to raise $1.5 million for the construction of a new building.
MJCDC is licensed by the N.C. Department of Human Resources Division of Child Development, and voluntarily meets additional standards for a five-star center.
The center is open 52 weeks a year, 12 hours a day (6 a.m.-6 p.m.) with the exception of 10 holidays and weekends. The center provides breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks, with meals cooked on site.
The MJCDC staff cooperates with families and therapists in serving any special needs a child may have, and each of the staff has a goal of continuing their education in Early Childhood Development.