Little Angels Childcare Academy has eight students enrolled currently. After it passes a health and safety inspection, which they hope to do in the next few months, they will be able to care for twelve students at a time.
Locating consistent childcare can be difficult for parents in Bristol Bay. Little Angels Childcare Academy in Naknek, is trying to fill that gap. After a year and a half of planning, fundraising and developing, the pre-kindergarten finally opened its doors this fall. It is full. Right now eight children are enrolled in the pre-kindergarten, and four are on the waiting list.
Now that the pre-k has students, teachers and facilities, the next step is to become state certified. To do that, their last hurdle is a health and safety inspection, which they will undergo within the next few months. Once they pass the inspection and are certified, Little Angels will be able to care for 12 students at a time. Right now, they can care for five children in the morning and five in the afternoon.
Currently, there are no certified childcare centers in the Bristol Bay Borough, which is why a small team of parents in the area spearheaded this initiative. Their goal is to provide quality early childhood education and to expand working parents’ childcare opportunities.
In October 2016, Little Angels Childcare Academy received an $80,000 donation from the Bristol Bay Borough. Program director, Esther Pepin offered an update at the November borough assembly meeting.
“We have about $21,000 left over that we haven’t spent of it. Eleven thousand dollars we saved in renovations because of generous public and community members donating time, labor and materials,” said Pepin.
Initially, Little Angels anticipated opening last January. However, due to legal restrictions, the borough’s donation could not be used to pay staff as the organizers had planned. So, Little Angels’ board continued to fundraise through this summer.
“We were able to come up with a very sustainable fundraiser, hopefully, through the Bristol Bay Fish Expo. Through fundraising last year we raised $21,577 through the Fish Expo and also through other fundraisers. That made up for our staffing, and we acquired those funds in July,” Pepin said.
With the infrastructure in place, Pepin said the first few months of operation for the academy have gone well.
“According to our business plan we are on schedule for opening fully once we are licensed. But we are having an amazing time over there laughing, and reading stories and holding babies,” said Pepin.
Going forward, after they become certified, Little Angels hopes to expand its classes and apply for a grant to provide need-based tuition assistance.
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