(WICHITA, Kan.) — No childcare, that's a problem many Kansas families living in small towns face. It's gotten so bad, the town of Cunningham says its lost people. And in a town of less than 500, they know it's a trend that needs to be reversed. So the community is working to build a daycare facility. And some say without it, the town's future could be in jeopardy.
There's no shortage of toys at grandma's house. "Okay you take the truck and the puppy go outside," Diane Thimesch tells her three-year-old grandson. Thimesch keeps a lot of things around since she babysits every day. "There really isn't a good daycare, it's hard to find somebody," she said.
That's supposed to change. The community of Cunningham is trying to raise $400,000 to build a new daycare facility. It will be built west of the United Methodist Church and the church will use it as a ministry. "We want to provide a place that's safe and loving for kids. And that's what we're going to do," said organizer Alan Albers.
He and the other organizer Marilyn Mavity say without the new center, the town's future could be in question. "We need small children and young families to survive, it's a good place to raise a family," Mavity said. She says the expansion of Highway 54 could also help attract news business and families to town, so they want to be ready. "We're sitting in a good location, it gives people a chance to live in small town and work in a big town," she said.
Having a daycare in town wouldn't only benefit parents and grandparents, but Thimesch says people would actually move to town if the service were available. "I have a niece and nephew that would move here if there was a daycare," she said. She says her grandchildren would also take advantage of it. "Part time anyway, just to give me a break. That would be nice, to go to town without dragging two little kids," she said.
Mavity says they're hoping to have 2/3 or $285,000 raised by March so they can break ground. She says they want the center to open in August next year. It will have space for 24 children, ages newborn to six years old. It's also a half a block from the school and will offer before and after school programs. For more information, check out 4CDayCare.org.