PAULLINA—Saving Grace Daycare Center in Paullina is making improvements to its facility and trying to reach more families, but an immediate need for staff is required to keep the center going.

Several employees are college students and will be leaving the facility soon, resulting in the center being shorthanded. The facility needs to be staffed with about one caregiver to every four children, which varies by age, according to Iowa Department of Human Services regulations.

The center is looking for a full-time director as well as full-time and part-time staff.

“We’re really needing staff right now to stay in ratio with the kids just so we can keep the doors open,” said on-site supervisor Stephanie Moermond.

The facility, located at 216 N. Maple St., accepts children from 6 months to 12 years old.

Saving Grace board president KT Haverhals said the center would like to provide for more families, but additional employees are needed first. Employees are paid to train and have weekends and holidays off.

“We’re probably hiring three people from the get-go,” she said. “That’s where our immediate need is at. The families kind of keep coming in. There’s a lack of day care. That’s why we came about — so we could try to help alleviate that problem.”

Volunteers also are welcome, especially while the facility is undergoing updates, such as a new paint job to the exterior and the addition of a nature playground incoming.

Interested parties are encouraged to visit the center 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday or contact the office or Haverhals directly.

Haverhals said the facility is open to employees regardless of location and hours are flexible.

“It’s a very giving job, but as much as you give, you get how much more back because those kids have a ton to give that you wouldn’t expect,” she said. “Whether it’s a hug, it’s a smile, they are so excited to see you and tell you about their day. You don’t always necessarily know what it can mean and it means a lot to them. One person can make a difference in their day.”

The center has a full kitchen, lockers for children’s belongings, day-care rooms, a flex room for indoor recess and an outdoor playground. All of the toys and equipment on the playground were donated.

“We’re always looking for developmental-type things,” Moermond said. “It really helps us. When you’re a nonprofit, donations are what helps make things work.”

Donations may be made at the front door of the facility. During operating hours, ring the doorbell and a member of the staff can assist.

“It’s like Christmas to them when new toys get brought in,” Moermond said. “We have a lot of little boys now. We’ve got a lot of girls’ stuff, but we don’t necessarily have tractors and pickups and little farm toys.”

The center accepts Child Care Assistance.

“There are a lot of families that both parents aren’t getting much above minimum wage,” Haverhals said. “If you have three kids and they’re all in day care, there’s no way that pans out. That’s where that program comes into play. It lightens the load a little bit. We are working toward getting on the food program.”

Meals are included in the facility’s regular rate.

During the academic year, transportation is provided for Zion-St. John Lutheran School and South O’Brien School District students.

This story appeared in the Aug. 3, 2019 issue of The South O'Brien Sun.