Child care is an issue that concerns every working parent. You don't want to leave your child with just anyone, but sometimes family can't always pick up the duties on a regular basis. So where does a parent turn when they need someplace to leave their child – every day or just on special occasions? Well, if you live in or travel through Grayson on your way to and from work, the city's newest daycare center, Carter Childcare & Early Learning Center, might be an option you want to consider.

“Our primary age group is preschool,” explained Ed Messer, self-proclaimed “gopher” for the center. “But we also take in older kids (up to age 12) before and after school.”

Messer said the idea for the center, though, initially came from his daughter-in-law, Haleigh Messer, who serves as director.

“She has a degree in social work,” Messer explained. “Through that work, she saw a need for childcare.”

She came to her in-laws and voice the idea to Messer's wife, center owner Shawna Messer, and the seed for the center was planted.

Their daycare is more than just a place for kids to wait for mom and dad to get off work though, he explained. They focus on age-appropriate education as well, which is why they included “early learning center” in the name.

In addition to Haleigh and Shawna, he said, the center is run by assistant direct Shelby Riley, who has had a long career in nursing as a CNA providing eldercare in area nursing homes, and ten staff members, including a fully functional kitchen with certified food prep staff.

He noted that they participate in the USDA food program and that children at the center receive a healthy breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack as part of their care.

While most of the children who are enrolled at the center will be there every weekday, he said they will also accept drop-ins for folks like work-from-home parents who have meetings or appointments that they can't take their children to.

“As long as it doesn't take us over our state mandated teacher to student ration, we'll find a place for them,” he said.

Those student to teacher ratios vary based on the age of the child, he said.

They currently have a capacity of around 60 kids for the ten staff members, though.

All parents, whether leaving their children daily or for drop-in, must fill out an application which includes the child's medical information. All staff, he added, are also CPR and first aid certified.

“We do pride ourselves in that. We've tried to make this the safest environment possible.”

That includes security cameras that parents can check on throughout the day, to see how the children and staff are interacting, and extensive background checks on every employee.

In addition to the first aid certification, each staff member is also certified in an early learning curriculum.

“That's why we call it an early learning program,” he explained.

They also participate in the Child Care Assistance Program from the state, meaning that parents can, depending on their income, have their costs for child care prorated.

While, as noted, their current capacity at the Grayson location is around 60 children, depending on the number of children in each age group, they are looking at growing. This includes the possibility of a new location in Olive Hill this spring or summer.

“We've had a lot of interest in an Olive Hill location so far,” Messer said.

The Carter Childcare & Early Learning Center is located at 708 East Main Street, in Grayson. You can reach them via telephone at (606)474-5437, or via cell phone at (606)315-9309.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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