Stick Creek Kids

Beginning late 2017, Wood River Vision 20/20 began exploring the child care demand and caregiver capacity, both now and looking into the future. Responses to a child care survey conducted January 2018 showed 65 households would consider using childcare in Wood River if it were available. The proposed Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center will be a new non-profit child development center with the capacity to serve up to 80 children at a time (more when factoring in part-timers). It will serve children ages 6 weeks to 12 years and be open weekdays from 6:30 am – 6:00 pm (dependent upon families’ schedules). The center will be owned by Wood River Vision 20/20.

The next step in moving the child care center dream into a reality is to raise funds to construct the building, fully furnish it, create outdoor play and exploration space, as well as provide grass, landscaping, fencing, sidewalks and a paved parking lot. While not all members of the community may have a current need for childcare, everyone in the community has an opportunity to play a role in the success of this project. By solving the childcare shortage problem, the community will be relieving a huge stress from current residents and making it easier for young families to relocate to the area. High quality childcare is essential for children’s future success, but also for thriving communities, for schools and for businesses.

The Thelen family has generously agreed to donate roughly .85 acres of land adjacent to the aquatic center for the center to be built upon. The overall capital campaign goal to build the center is $1,964,000. As of 1/14/19, the volunteer leadership team has secured donations, pledges and grants totaling $1,227,624 so we are well on our way to success. No City funds or bond financing will go into this project, nor will it have any taxpayer support. The center’s budget has been build to be self-sustaining over the years.

Everyone is encouraged to follow the progress on their Facebook page–Stick Creek Kids. For additional information, contact Sara (Moyer) Arnett at 308-380-7030 or [email protected]. Arnett stated “Gifts of all shapes and sizes are greatly appreciated so whether you’re a current Wood River resident, just still consider Wood River “home”, or share our passion for early childhood education and community development, we would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and earn your support as well. The community truly needs outside investment for this project to move from dream to reality.” Thank you in advance for considering a gift to the project!

To keep up with updates on this project visit their Facebook page

To keep up with updates on this project visit their Website


Progress on the Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center continues. The following Q&As have been prepared to respond to common questions the Wood River Vision 20/20 Child Care Task Force has been receiving. It is their goal to have the entire community understand the critical childcare shortage facing central Nebraska families, see the vision for the Stick Creek Kids solution, and how the entire central Nebraska area will benefit long-term.

Where will the child care center be built? The Thelen family has generously committed to donate .85 acres of land at the NW corner of the field adjacent to the Wood River Aquatic Center, just across Wood River Road from Wood River MS/HS. Dodd Street currently extends out from Green Street to the pool parking lot. Residents can currently see the radius where Dodd Street will curve and head east. The center will be built in the space right there between Dodd Street and Wood River Road.

When will construction begin? Wood River Vision’s Board and the child care task force will proceed once all necessary funds have been raised. No one wants the center to have to service debt. However, while fundraising continues, the Vision/Stick Creek Kids leadership team is refining its vision for the center’s layout, working with experts in early childhood design. There are many DHHS licensing rules and Fire Marshall requirements which govern child care centers, so by working with the experts we will ensure all those rules have been factored into the layout plans. We expect to have refined layout drawings by the first of April 2019. So, by continuing the planning process during the capital campaign, we hope to be able to break ground quickly once the fundraising goal has been met. Construction is expected to take about one year from that point.

Will the City of Wood River own the center? No, Wood River Vision 20/20 Inc. will own and manage the child care center. Vision is a 501c3 non-profit entity organized for the betterment of the greater Wood River community. Vision is governed by a six-member board. Stick Creek Kids will be managed by an on-site Director with expertise in early childhood education. The Director will report to a volunteer Stick Creek Kids Board to oversee the operation of the center. That board will be formed once the capital campaign nears completion. Anyone interested in serving in that capacity is invited to contact Chelsie Doane at 308-380-2552.

How much money must be raised? As you may recall, the fundraising goal is $1,965,000. This capital campaign provides full funding to construct and furnish the center with all necessary equipment, learning materials, toys, and software to allow for parent interaction, etc.; build the outdoor play spaces complete with fencing, lawn, underground sprinklers, landscaping; and create a paved parking lot for staff and convenient drop-off location for families. It also provides for working capital for the first few years.

Where does the fundraising campaign stand now? At present, we have raised roughly $1,225,000, for which we are all very grateful! Having just officially kicked off the campaign in November, this is outstanding! Large contributions by the Grace & Donna Rae Koepp Foundation and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant Foundation accelerated the campaign significantly. A big thank you to all the individual donors who have contributed as well!! They have been recognized along the way on the Stick Creek Kids Facebook page. However, with next week’s issue of The Clipper , we will begin recognizing them in the paper as well since not everyone uses Facebook. Contributors to the campaign will be permanently recognized on the donor wall in the center’s lobby. Naming opportunities for portions of the center are available with gifts of $25,000 or more. For additional information, please contact Sara Arnett at 308-380-7030.

I don’t need child care, why should I give? The Stick Creek Kids solution lifts up the entire community, not just families who need child care today. An investment in Stick Creek Kids is an investment in central Nebraska for generations to come. Solving the critical childcare shortage also benefits employers who need to attract and retain employees, keeping them on the job. It makes Wood River a more desirable place to live and raise a family. It increases demand for housing in the area, which likely strengthens home values and spurs residential construction.

How can I give to the Stick Creek Kids capital campaign? Make your check payable to the Wood River Community Centennial Foundation and mail it to: PO Box 493, Wood River NE 68883. As an IRS approved 501c3 non-profit corporation, your contribution is eligible for a tax deduction. All fund will be held by the Foundation until needed for the construction of the center. If you have any questions about giving, feel free to contact Sara (Moyer) Arnett (308-380-7030) or Katie (Krause) Gartner (308-258-2613). Gifts in ANY amount are greatly appreciated whether you want to make a one-time contribution or a multi-year pledge.

Will the City be issuing bonds to pay for the center? No, since the City has no ownership in the center, it will not be involved in financing the center. Stick Creek Kids will not be built with taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, the school district does not have a financial interest in the project.

Can the center cash flow? Yes. Careful financial planning occurred early in the process to ensure that Stick Creek Kids CDC could ‘stand on its own two feet’ financially for the long-term. If financial self-sufficiency weren’t possible, we would not have proceeded with this solution. When a child care center opens, enrollment isn’t at capacity immediately. We expect enrollment to grow gradually over the first few years until it reaches capacity. The center will be licensed to serve a maximum of 80 children at any given time. A detailed pro forma operating budget was built to plan for gradual enrollment and staffing growth over the first three years. In addition to local accounting and financial professionals, this budget has been reviewed in detail by our Communities for Kids mentor, Marti Beard, at the Nebraska & Families Foundation. Having managed many non-profit child care centers during her career Marti has a good feel for how to carefully manage overhead costs while delivering quality early childhood education.

How can I get involved in the Stick Creek Kids project? The Stick Creek Kids leadership team would LOVE to have more people actively involved in the project. Two upcoming fundraising events need extra hands so please reach out to Elizabeth Troyer-Miller at 574-304-6548 or Chelsie (Lammers) Doane 308-380-2552 to get plugged in.

I may have an interest in working at the child development center. Will you be hiring ? Yes. If you have experience in early childhood education, we would like to visit with you. At this point, we are keeping a list of all interested parties. The Vision Board will start with the recruitment of a Director with a degree in Early Childhood Education, and preferably experience managing a center. The Director will ultimately hire all the teaching staff. As a Step Up to Quality center, all staff will be fully screened and required to complete initial and continuing education.


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