ST. GEORGE — The Switchpoint Community Resource Center has plans to open Stepping Stones, a daycare center that will offer overnight and weekend services for families in need.
The center will be the first of its kind in St. George, offering childcare exclusively between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours per day on weekends.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have anybody that can help them in the evenings or on weekends when they have to go to work. Right now there are no childcare facilities that will do those nontraditional hours,” Switchpoint Finance Manager Sonjia Naron said.
They hope to eventually offer daycare services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The nonprofit is currently undergoing negotiations to obtain a building for Stepping Stones and hopes to open before the end of the year.
The center will be open to kids of all ages and all families in the community, regardless of whether they currently use Switchpoint’s services.
The facility will include places for children to sleep, and they hope to be able to accommodate around 116 children at a time, though the official capacity will depend on what building they are able to acquire.
Stepping Stones will be run by state-licensed childcare personnel and will charge parents the market rate for child care services. They will also accept subsidy from the Department of Workforce Services for those who qualify.
According to the DWS, the median cost of childcare in Utah is $760 per month for infants and $475 per month for children aged 9-12. In Washington County, it costs between $518 and $642 per child each month for childcare.
Switchpoint’s board of directors first identified the need for a daycare center offering nontraditional hours in their five-year strategic plan. This year, they were selected to receive a $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Utah to help fund the opening of Stepping Stones.
“That’s really exciting for us to have an organization like that recognize that we’re trying to do something innovative and also to be sensitive to the needs of our community,” Naron said.
The exact number of people in the community in need of night and weekend daycare is unknown, but Switchpoint learned from DWS that around 300 of the childcare subsidy vouchers they have issued in the area have not been used.
“We suspect that most of those are because there is no childcare in the nontraditional hours,” Naron said.
There are many people in the community, such as CNAs, who have to work nights and weekends, or choose to, because they often offer higher pay.
“If you don’t have somewhere to watch your kids, then you can’t really take those shifts and you can’t take those higher-paying shift differential jobs as well,” Naron said. “Our operation hours … will help facilitate them being able to stay employed and to work those longer shifts, or those later shifts, that might be available to them.”
The daycare is also being set up to benefit the kids. There are plans to incorporate a grandparent program at Stepping Stones in which volunteers can come in the evenings to help kids with homework or read to them.
“We have a lot of really great volunteers through Switchpoint that we’re hoping will embrace this opportunity as well, and we think they will enjoy that,” Naron said.
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