Change on the Horizon for Leelanau Children's Center

For more than a decade, The Leelanau Children's Center (LCC) has operated two early childhood development facilities in Leelanau County. On June 6th, 2019, the early childhood education program will consolidate and run solely out of the Leland center.

Throughout its thirteen years of operation, the Northport center has served over 145 children ages one to five. "Running and operating a successful early childhood center in any location is expensive," commented LCC Board President, Pat Seiler. "This is largely due to the low teacher-to-student ratios necessary for quality programming. The money we receive from tuition and state grants simply doesn't cover the costs to run the program." Unique to the Northport center, both inconsistencies have existed since inception; fluctuating student enrollment and a limited pool of qualified staff. With these challenges, both the LCC Board of Directors and community leaders - specifically, the Leelanau Township Community Foundation - have worked tirelessly to sustain the Northport center. It was determined, however, that the Northport center could not continue without compromising the financial sustainability of the organization as a whole.

In 2014, the LCC Finance Committee projected the organization would effectively be inoperable in five years, should they continue to incur year-over-year losses and exposure to enrollment volatility at the Northport center. To address this concern, both centers reworked programming and scheduling as some cost-saving measures. After significant reduction in enrollment for Northport this past year, the Finance Committee proposed a resolution that was unanimously adopted by the Board of Directors to reach certain enrollment by May 10th, 2019, to remain in operation. The targeted enrollment figures were not met.

"The LCC Board did not come upon this decision lightly," remarked Seiler. "I'm deeply disappointed, but the fact is that we just did not have the enrollment numbers needed over time for a sustainable and impactful program. This is not the outcome we had hoped for, but we're confident it is the right decision."

The Leelanau Children's Center remains a vibrant, five-star recognized program. "We're optimistic this change will provide the time and resources necessary to solidify our foundation and bring about the change that will ultimately allow us to carry out our mission for future generations: to provide high-quality early childhood educational programs and advocate for Leelanau County children, parents and families," commented Seiler.

During this time of transition, the Leelanau Children's Center welcomes newly hired Executive Director Heidi Kruse. She will assume her position on June 3rd, 2019. Kruse comes to the Leelanau Children's Center with over twenty-five years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience. LCC's Executive Director is thinking of the future: "LCC looks forward to being part of the ongoing conversation on the county's early childhood needs. There are good people coming together to help face the challenge our area endures when it comes to early childhood. Together, we can find the best approach."

About the Leelanau Children's Center (LCC)

Leelanau Children's Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides high-quality early childhood educational programs and advocates for children, parents and families. Founded in 1976 as a playgroup at the Leland United Methodist Church, LCC has grown into a Michigan Department of Education Great Start to Quality five-star rated early childhood education program. The program provides center-based care for toddlers and preschoolers, with an emphasis on early relationships, early experiences, serious play-based learning and community partnerships. For more information, please contact or (231) 256-7841.


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