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Cooperation Station to reopen Thursday, August 31.

Aug 25, 2017 08:17AM ● Published by Editor

Getting kids outside to experience our beautiful North Shore surroundings is a priority at Cooperation Station. The child care center reopens its doors for business on August 31. 
Photo courtesy of Carah Thomas-Maskell

By Brian Larsen from the Cook County News Herald - August 25, 2017

Caught in limbo the last three months, between 15-20 volunteers have used that time to spruce up the grounds, deep clean and put a fresh coat of paint on many of the walls at the Cooperation Station Day Care (CSDC).

The facility looks great.

“We are almost ready to reopen,” said Lori Rothstein, a CSDC board member who with Carah Thomas spent much of last Tuesday working at the facility.
With the county experiencing a current shortage of day care providers, it will come as welcome relief to many looking to find a spot for their children that Cooperation Station is back in business. 

The childcare philosophy at CSDC is somewhat unique, Rothstein said. “We believe in getting kids outside every day to play. We have a nature play program that focuses on key character traits like creativity, curiosity, and resiliency. Kids learn to problem solve. They learn to help each, work together across age groups. They aren’t separated by age groups here. We don’t have many plastic toys and no toys with batteries,” she said.

The sign out front has been repainted the yard spruced up and the inside rooms cleaned and repainted just in time to reopen the doors of the Cooperation Station Day Care Center An open house will be held Monday Aug 28 from 5-6 pm and the doors will reopen for business on Thursday Aug 31 Photo courtesy of Carah Thomas-Maskell
The sign out front has been repainted, the yard spruced up and the inside rooms cleaned and repainted just in time to reopen the doors of the Cooperation Station Day Care Center. The doors will reopen for business on Thursday, Aug. 31. Photo courtesy of Carah Thomas-Maskell 

Recently some of the staff visited the Wind Ridge Schoolhouse and Secret Forest Playschool in Duluth, picking up tips on nature based instruction.

“Our kids are ready for kindergarten when it’s time for them to go to school,” Rothstein said. “We make sure they are kindergarten ready.” CSDC board member Jeff Kern said, “We will open with a C3 license.”

Under a C3 license the day care can accept four infants under two, but only one of those can be under age one, said Kern. The center can take a maximum of 10 kids age five and under, and four older than five, as long as there are at least two staff members working. Drop in care and afterschool care will be available as long as licensing requirements can be met. 

Open since 1999, the CDCS ran into financial difficulties and sought help from the local YMCA. In the spring of 2016 the Cooperation Station Daycare board approached the YMCA to ask for help to continue providing child care programming for families because they were at risk of closing. In the brief time the YMCA has been opened, it has become the largest childcare provider in the county.

The YMCA Advisory Council made the decision to enter into a nine-month lease with Cooperation Station and to assume the financial risk of operating an off-site childcare program. At the time YMCA Director Emily Marshall said, “We did this to allow time for Cooperation Station to explore options for sustainability while still providing a service to the families that would otherwise have no place to go.” 

Throughout the duration of the lease, the YMCA was tasked with making a decision about ownership of the property or relocating the program if ownership was not feasible (long-term rent was not the intent/solution). Attempts to secure funding to purchase the home were not awarded which forced the Cook County Youth Agency Coalition to explore other options.
The Y managed the facility for nine months, closing it at the end of May 2017. When funds to purchase the building which houses the daycare failed, Marshall said the Y wasn’t interested in leasing or renting the space.

Cooperation Station will reopen Thursday, August 31.  It is located at 404 5th Avenue W. in Grand Marais.

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