GILPIN COUNTY, Colo. — Gilpin County's only early learning center is closing in less than two weeks because it doesn’t have enough money to stay open through the rest of the year.
Eagle’s Nest Early Learning Center made the announcement during an emergency meeting Thursday night with parents. The daycare, which serves 36 children ranging in ages from 6 weeks through 5 years old, will close on Nov. 22 unless it can come up with $55,000.
As full-time working parents, finding Eagle's Nest for their two girls was a huge relief for Rob and Natalie McKay. Now, they’re not sure what they will do with the center closing right before the holidays.
“Try to limp along and take PTO and get help from family until Christmas. If we can’t find another option until then, it probably means one of us will have to stop working,” said Rob McKay.
The daycare started cutting costs by closing the pre-K room, laying off a few teachers and cutting food service. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough to keep the doors open, according to Anne Powe, president of Eagle’s Nest's Board of Directors.
Powe said the healthcare costs for teachers and building upgrades like new windows and stucco led to financial troubles.
“We were paying about $9,000 a month in healthcare, and for a nonprofit, that’s huge. For anybody, that’s huge,” she said.
A previous financial manager may have also misappropriated funds, according to Powe. The Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it’s investigating a report of theft from Eagle’s Nest Early Learning Center.
Powe said county commissioners tried to save the daycare with American Rescue Plan Act funding and emergency funding — totaling $85,000 — but it wasn’t as much as they needed.
Eagle's Nest submitted $780,000 in grant funding this year but has only been awarded a little more than $100,000 so far, according to Powe.
Now, Powe and other parents are left looking for options out-of-county, holding onto hope that someone could keep the center’s doors open.
“Anyone who wants to help, we would really appreciate it,” said McKay.
Eagle's Nest Early Learning Center created aGoFundMe online fundraiser to help raise funds.
The county said on Nov. 20 that it will host a community town hall on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. to discuss how to best reestablish a new childcare offering. The location was not yet available.