Little Sparks Child Care Center caregiver Claire Lindholm plays with Alivia Bunker during the center’s opening day Tuesday, May 7.

IRON MOUNTAIN – The dream of providing an affordable, high-quality child care for the Dickinson County community finally became a reality, as the Northern Lights YMCA opened the Systems Control Little Sparks Child Care Center this week.

“Adding full-time child care to the YMCA just made sense for us and for the community,” Northern Lights YMCA Dickinson Center Director Jonathan RIngel said. “Offering affordable high-quality care, and meeting a true need of the community fits perfect with the Mission of the YMCA. Our Board of Directors felt very strongly that adding child care to the Y was something that needed to be done. Thanks to the success of our Capital Campaign and our wonderful partnership with Systems Control, we were able to make the dream a reality.”

Action on the long-discussed idea of full-time child care at the YMCA began with Board approval last summer. Systems Control, attempting to address one of the top concerns of its employees, partnered on the project late in 2018. Construction lasted a couple of months, turning unoccupied space on the east end the YMCA building into three classrooms.

The fully-licensed, full-time child care center officially opened Tuesday, May 7. Enrollment is ongoing, with spaces available to the general public.

“It’s truly been a labor of love, and we couldn’t be more excited to be up and running,” center director Sue Nelson said. “We have highly-qualified lead teachers in each classroom and a terrific support staff in place.”

According to local state licensing representatives, the demand for quality, licensed care in the Dickinson County continues to grow each year, and the YMCA expects its center to be full within the first year of operation.

The center offers full-time care for ages six weeks to preschool at a flat weekly rate of $170 ($195 for the infant room), operating from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The weekly rate includes all snacks and meals, full youth YMCA membership and other free YMCA exclusive enrichment activities such as swim lessons.

There is also an option for families of enrolled children to receive a discounted YMCA family membership.

“There’s just so much more we can do with the kids at a YMCA when compared to a more traditional day care setting,” Nelson said. “Our goal is to provide well-rounded experiences to enhance the child’s development on all levels.”

The age-based curriculum of the center includes components of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Introduction to those concepts will help the children in the center to meet all developmental guidelines and be better prepared for school.

Systems Control Little Sparks Child Care Center is licensed for up to 48 children, including 12 in the infant room. As the center approaches capacity, employees of Systems will be afforded first preference on any waiting list. While currently operating until 6 p.m., the center also has the ability to add evening care, should demand warrant.

“We’re starting with three rooms and daytime hours,” Nelson said. “But, as another benefit of being at the Y, we can grow capacity and hours of operation in the future. We’re just so excited to be open and offering top-notch care to the community.”

For more information on Little Sparks Child Care Center, contact Nelson directly at 239-3717.