(Malvern) — Plans are in the works to renovate the building known as the Manor of Malvern into a new childcare facility.
East Mills Child Care Solutions purchased the building at 905 North 2nd Avenue in Malvern, which previously served as a nursing facility until its closure in 2014 and has since functioned as a single-family home. Meagan Schnoor is the President of EMCCS. Schnoor tells KMA News the purchase was possible thanks to significant planning through partnerships with various Malvern businesses and the East Mills School District and a survey of the district’s parents, who she says voiced their need for child care services. She says they ultimately landed on the building due to its location in the community.
“We’re going to be located to this new 61 house subdivision that’s part of a Community Development Block Grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority,” she said. “And we’re going to be right along the ‘Safe Routes to School’ route that will go right by the center.”
She says the EMCCS committee is considering several programs, including before and after-school care and three-year-old preschool. Schnoor adds that the building is also close to the current East Mills junior-senior high school, which will soon be a pre-K-12 facility after voters passed a $22 million bond issue in 2021.
Additionally, she says the facility already has some amenities in place rather than constructing an entirely new facility.
“The owners have maintained it really nicely so a lot of the equipment, the kitchen, all those sorts of things are all still there,” said Schnoor. “So, we are embarking on a renovation of this 18,000 square foot building and adding classrooms to accommodate infants through grade school kiddos.”
But, there are still some additional renovations needed, which Schnoor says brings the project to around a $5 million price tag.
“The appropriate safety updates, a new entry place so that parents can leave their kids in a safe location, updates to the parking, to the playground, and maybe like a multi-purpose area for those cold, winter days,” said Schnoor.
Schnoor says grant writing efforts are already in the works, and a significant fundraising campaign is also planned for 2023. However, she adds the need is great as there is no childcare facility currently in the district, and the hope is to spark even more growth with the new center.
“As part of East Mills Child Care Solutions we are also hopefully providing training and opportunities so that folks who are interested in opening ‘in-home child care centers’ can do that as well because there’s not a one size fits all solution,” Schnoor explained. “East Mills doesn’t have any before and after school care and there’s also no three-year preschool in the district — so those are all big needs for the parents in our district.”
According to Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral data, in the last five years, there has been a 21% decrease in the total number of childcare programs and a 15% decrease in the number of childcare spaces listed in Mills County. Schnoor says the plan is to begin cleaning out the facility this winter and have the renovations completed by fall 2024 to line up with the anticipated opening of the East Mills pre-K-12 facility. For more information on the project or to become a volunteer and assist with fundraising efforts, contact East Mills Child Care Solutions at [email protected], or visit the group’s Facebook page.