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Creative Coast Preschool may close

Funding problems could mean end of childcare facility

July 3, 2012
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

Creative Coast Preschool may have to close its doors due to the lack of funding that is made available during the voluntary prekindergarten summer session.

Tina Riehm, owner of Creative Coast Preschool, said the center counts on its funding from VPK.

"That is how we have been able to stay open for about five years," she said.

According to Florida law, each summer VPK class has to be composed of at least four students to receive funding for the program.

Unfortunately, Riehm said she was unable to get four children enrolled in the summer VPK program only two.

"With the remaining children enrolled, that tuition is not enough to maintain the summer operations," she said. "This is why summer VPK is so important."

Unfortunately now the entire center is in severe danger of closing, not for the summer, but for good because bill payments have fallen behind due to funding not going back into the center.

As of Thursday she owed her landlord $2,600, which was due by Monday to keep the doors open.

If she had four children enrolled, she would have received enough funding to continue to keep the doors open.

Riehm said it saddens her to know that she has struggled to keep the only licensed childcare on the island open for years, and now it comes down to not being able to register four students into the VPK program, which is free for families.

Riehm said last week that she is worried they will not make it to August when the enrollment picks back up to normal.

The enrollment during the school year for VPK is much higher. So far Riehm has 10 students signed up for VPK in August.

If the doors close, Riehm said, parents would have to drive to Cape Coral for their children to take the VPK program, along with obtaining childcare.

"Pine Island Elementary School will lose the VPK program as well," she said. "That would mean less kids would be starting kindergarten prepared."

The childcare service that the center offers also takes a hit during the summer because families go on vacations and older siblings are able to stay home and watch their younger brother or sister while parents are at work.

All five staff members, which includes Riehm, will also be without a job if the center has to close.

She said she never intended to become rich by opening Creative Coast Preschool; she just wanted to give the island a licensed facility that offers VPK.



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