Breanna Hodgkiss knows time is running out.
Hodgkiss started Learning Adventures Childcare in 2013, and until earlier this year, it had a permanent location. But in March, melting snow flooded the space she rented for the business.
The landlord wasn’t willing to replace some things that were waterlogged and Hodgkiss didn’t feel comfortable moving children back into the space. So she found a temporary home for the center in the 20/20 Professional Building.
Temporary was supposed to be the key word.
“We thought it would be a few days, maybe a few weeks and we’d have somewhere to go,” Hodgkiss told the Williston Herald.
Nine months later, the center is still in its temporary space. Unless Learning Adventures can find a permanent home — or at least have a plan to move into one soon — it will have to close its doors at the end of the year.
That would leave the families of children Hodgkiss and her staff are responsible for with no child care. And it would leave Williston, a place where child care is already scarce, with one fewer option.
There have been a few hopeful moments, but none have worked out. In one case, an inspection turned up black mold. In another, things looked very promising, but when the fire department did an inspection, the restrictions they had for the space mean it wouldn’t work, either.
Hodgkiss feels further from a solution now than at the start.
“We’re desperate,” she said. “Without a permanent plan, we won’t be able to be here in the new year.”
Hodgkiss said she’s met with Williston Economic Development, but that hasn’t resulted in a solution, either.
Finding a suitable space isn’t easy. The center has about 25 children right now but is certified to take as many as 46. That means there are requirements about how much space a new locations must have, as well as the location of sinks and access to outdoor space.
County workers who license child care centers have gone above and beyond, Hodgkiss said, but still, no permanent solution is in sight.
It’s especially frustrating for Hodgkiss because before 2011 she was a teacher. She started working in child care because she couldn’t find a place for her own son.
Now, the 20 families that have children at Learning Adventures have parents who work as nurses, police officers, physical therapy assistants, technicians, business owners, bank officers and other jobs. They could find themselves in the same situation in just a few weeks.
“We’re trying to get the word out,” Hodgkiss said.