Child care facility at Children's Hospital to close

MADERA COUNTY, Calif.

The Easter Seals Child Development Center is located on the campus of Children's Hospital Central California off Highway 41 and Avenue 9 in Madera County.

The Easter Seals Child Development Center in Madera first opened back in 2003 to meet the needs of a growing community. Thousands of homes were planned to be built around Children's Hospital, and when that didn't happen, the hospital says the facility was underutilized, costing it hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

Rebecca works at Children's Hospital in Madera County. She is one of many moms sad to see the Easter Seals Child Development Center close up shop.

"It's more than just daycare, they teach," said Rebecca, "Your kids come here and they learn sign language and they're potty trained and they have good manners."

The center serves a unique group of children. Since it first opened nine years ago, the center enrolled infants and children with differing abilities and a wide variety of special needs -- including kids with vision and hearing loss, autism, developmental disabilities and specific medical needs.

On June 15th it plans to close, citing slow growth in the area and a poor economy.

"We heard there was going to be a housing development around this area and there were going to be thousands of and thousands of homes. Unfortunately, those homes never materialized so the center has sort of always been under-utilized and has operated at a financial loss since it's inception," said Children's Hospital spokesperson Jill Wagner.

The hospital says it's been losing about $150-thousand a year. Administrators are working with the families to find them alternative childcare. Easter Seals is also assisting it's 22 employees to find them work elsewhere.

Once the center closes in June, the hospital plans to move it's physical and occupational therapy services from it's location in Fresno into the building in Madera County. A move, the hospital says, will bring patients closer to the services of the hospital and save it hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent.

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