Child care center in Reading to close; parents sound off at meeting

READING, Pa. - Emotions were high Wednesday night as parents gathered to sound off about closing a YMCA early learning center that's known as "The Cottage" in Reading.

The Reading High Y Child Care operates in a building leased by the Reading School District in the 200 block of Locust Street in Reading. The center's last day is June 9.

"That's something as a parent that's really dear to you -- the people that spend time with your child most of the day," said Naomi Duncan, whose child goes to the center.

69 News cameras were not allowed inside the meeting and Ken Borkey, Vice-President for the YMCA of Reading and Berks County, declined to go on camera.

However, Borkey said the center's closure is unfortunate. He said he hopes parents will consider the two other early child care centers in Berks County -- one is in Reading and the other is in Fleetwood.

Officials with the YMCA said discounts are being offered and some fees are being waived so kids can transfer to the other centers.

However, parents have concerns about the other center in Reading and have grown fond of the child care workers at "The Cottage."

Parents received a letter dated May 15 notifying them of the center's closure.

"It's upsetting that they did not give us more of a notice," said parent Janae Munz.

The YMCA leases the building from the Reading School District.

A spokeswoman for the district said the YMCA approached the district about declining enrollment at the location and consolidating its early learning programs a few months ago.

Parents said they should have been involved in the process.

The school district spokeswoman says once the district learned the YMCA was considering not renewing the lease, it became a mutual decision to use the building for the Red Knight Success Academy. That program is currently operating out of the Reading Intermediate High School.

Parents said they are also upset about the center's workers potentially losing their jobs.

"I think decisions were made at an administrative level and they didn't understand the fallout, the consequences to all the people involved," said Sharon Rossignoli, who attended the meeting.

"These staff members have raised these children -- when we have not been around,"  Munz said.

Borkey said the center employs 15 people. He said his staff is currently working on a process to determine if employees will be transferred to work at other centers or if they will have to reapply.

Borkey said jobs at the other centers are dependent on program enrollment.

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