Warren Baptist Church announced in May that it was eliminating its day-care program, and recently Abilene Baptist Church ended its Mother's Day Out program. As a result, some area churches are experiencing increased demand for those services.
Helen Price, director of the Mother's Day Out program at West Acres Baptist Church on Gibbs Road in Evans, said she already has signed up a number of children who were enrolled in the Abilene program.
"We're close to our limit already," said Price, adding that the church has three classes for children ranging from 18 months to four years."I've already had a number of calls" from people who had their children at Abilene, said Price, adding that there are no plans to expand the program at West Acres once capacity is reached.
Warren Baptist Church had a day-care program for more than 30 years, but closed earlier this year when church officials said they were refocusing their ministry. About 140 children were served by the church day-care.
Abilene Baptist Church Pastor Bill Harrell said his church first contemplated ending their 25-year-old program about four years ago. "The closing of our mother's day out program had been anticipated for several years and was strictly an administrative decision, primarily prompted by potential legal liability that has become an increasing burden in the climate of our society," Harrell said.
Despite the closings at Warren and Abilene, some churches have openings in their programs.
St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church on Pleasant Home Road will begin its first Mother's Day Out program Aug. 18.
The director, parishioner Nicole Durrwachter, worked with Abilene's day-care program for six years. When it closed, "I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to bring it to my church," she said.
St. Teresa's program will offer four classes for 18-month-olds and 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds in refurbished classrooms at the church. The classes will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
"There'll be a lot of learning, a lot of playing," Durrwachter said. "They're not just going to be dropped off into a room to play. It'll be a safe, structured environment."
Registration will be Aug. 3 in St. Teresa's social hall after the 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Masses.
The Church of the Most Holy Trinity on Telfair Street also is in its first year offering a Mother's Day Out program.
"I haven't gotten any calls" resulting from the closings of Abilene and Warren Baptist, director Cheryl Weinand said, "but this is out first year starting up, so that may be a part of it."
Weinand said the program at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity will include four classes for toddlers through age 4. The church hopes to draw children of parents in the medical community who work downtown.
"We're also hoping to pull from North Augusta," she said.
Other churches, such as Martinez United Methodist Church, made decisions to grow their Mother's Day Out and preschool programs before the announcements by Warren Baptist and Abilene.
"When our preschool board met in late winter/early spring, they decided it was time to expand our programs," said Georgi Grayson, director of children's ministries at Martinez United Methodist. "We have divided our mother's day out program into two different groups and added another 3- and another 4-year-old preschool class."
The church, which established its Mother's Day Out program nearly 20 years ago, will enroll up to 12 pupils in each of its Mother's Day Out classes, an increase of up to 20 pupils, Grayson said. They have space for between 40 and 50 Mother's Day Out pupils, she said.
The two added preschool classes, which are more academically structured than the Mother's Day Out classes, will now mean there are five preschool classes at the church.
"This was the year we knew we would need to grow," said Grayson, adding that she has received a few calls from parents of children previously enrolled in the now-defunct Mother's Day Out program at Abilene. "We made decisions to expand well before Abilene and Warren Baptist announced the closings of their programs."
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