|Kluck hired as daycare facility director|
by Kurt Johnson
Aurora’s new community daycare facility project took another critical step this week, hiring Lisa Kluck as its full-time director.
An at-home daycare provider herself for the past six years, Kluck has worked hard to keep the project moving forward, saying there simply aren’t enough child care services available to meet the community’s growing need.
"I think this is a really good thing for the community and I’m very excited to be part of it," Kluck said. "We’ve been working on this project for four years and I personally feel it’s a success because there is such a shortage of daycare."
Kluck brings experience to the project, as well as educational training. She has a bachelor of science degree in social work from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and an associates degree in human services from Southeast Community College in Lincoln.
"We had seven excellent applicants for the director position and the board was pleased with the quality of people who applied," said Dennis Ferguson, president of Aurora Child Care, Inc. "We felt that all the applicants were capable, but Lisa got the nod because of the work she has put into the project the last four or five years, plus she has college degrees in social work and human services. We are excited and pleased to have her on board."
Construction has begun at 1717 O St., the site of the new facility, now expected to open this fall. The new facility will open with a capacity of 100 to 115 children, though it was designed to be expanded if needed. Board members have projected an initial enrollment of between 30 to 70, which will require a staff of eight to 12 employees.
In the meantime, Kluck will begin working on the paperwork to get the facility licensed.
"I’ll begin immediately working out details like prices, hours and hiring staff," Kluck explained. "Then we’ll start talking to potential families interested in using the center."
That process will begin with a list from the Aurora Area Chamber and Development office, which has been gathering names from families in need of daycare.
"In the six years I’ve done daycare, we’ve had a shortage," Kluck noted. "We’ve tried to get more in-home, and that just didn’t work. I’m excited that the center will give parents a choice of whether they want to use in-home or the center. This will give them an option that doesn’t require going out of town."
There are currently 21 licensed and unlicensed in-home daycare providers in Hamilton County. Kluck said the new facility is not intended to compete, but rather to enhance the services available.
"It is definitely not meant to shut down any in-home providers, and I think the center will help the parents who are not able to find in-home daycare," she said. "There has just been such a shortage of in-home, and this will help."
In addition to her educational training, Kluck worked six years for the state’s child protective services, conducting family assessments, establishing safety plans and performing crisis intervention while working with law enforcement and the courts. She also served on the parent-teacher board for Aurora Public Schools, chaired the Chuckwagon Group, was president of the Hamilton County Daycare Association and was chairperson for the Hamilton County Daycare Task Force.
A native of Superior, Kluck moved to Aurora eight years ago with her husband, Shane, a claims adjuster with Allied Insurance who works from a home office. The Klucks have three children, Trenton, Trevor and Mackenzie, ages 9, 6 and 2.
Initially, a 6,500 sq. ft. facility was designed for the center, though when a slumping national economy began to impact fundraising efforts the project was scaled back to 5,180 sq. ft. An estimated $575,000 has been raised thus far locally, with overall costs expected to end up around $825,000.
McKinney Enterprises, a Lincoln-based contractor with ties to Hamilton County, is working to complete the structure.
"Initially there was a little bit of a rain delay, but the worst-case scenario we’re looking at is an October completion date," Ferguson said. "That’s kind of the target month we have for opening."
Once built, the facility will offer two infant rooms, fenced-in play area, a storm shelter, offices, kitchen and laundry facilities, with parking stalls for easy drop off and pick up. In addition to daycare services, Aurora Child Care Inc. will also provide a pre-school program.