2022 was a milestone year for Neck of the Woods Childcare Center (NOW), located in the old Small Dog building on Route 100 in Waitsfield. NOW continued to grow in enrollment due to the completion of five classrooms and bathrooms on the main floor, made possible by grants and private donations from the state and The Valley community. Fifty children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old are currently attending NOW and this number will grow to 75 in early 2023 when a new, expanded wastewater system is installed, thanks to a grant from the Mad River Valley Community Fund. State permitting has been received for this expansion.
Neck of the Woods has gained state-wide recognition for its efforts and programs, achieving the number two ranking on the 2023 Regional Project Priority List, compiled by the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission. Let’s Grow Kids, the Vermont child care advocacy group, has granted NOW $33,000 to be used in 2023 for professional development to gain additional accreditation for staff. NOW continues to apply for state funding as grants become available.
In 2022 NOW agreed to become the first Head Start Program in the area, which will be launched once a required commercial kitchen is added to the building. Head Start Vermont provides comprehensive early learning programs for young children and their families from lower income households. To fund the construction NOW has requested $25,000 in ARPA funds from Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston and Moretown, plus has received private donations and a state grant of $31,000. After the kitchen is complete, NOW will begin to renovate the second floor, adding an elevator for handicap access, adding additional classrooms, and updating fire and safety systems.
Neck of the Woods will adjust its summer camp for 2023, moving the program to Harwood Middle School due to planned summer construction at Moretown School. This six-week program will be offered for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students and focuses on outdoor learning and activities. NOW continues to run the after-school program at Moretown Elementary School.
“NOW is grateful for the tremendous community support provided by Mad River Valley Rotary as well as so many other Valley residents and organizations,” said spokesperson Linda Levin.