HOOSICK, N.Y. -- The only fully licensed and accredited child care center in town open 12 hours a day, five days a week, staff at Cornerstone Childcare Center say all activities are set up to socialize and acclimate children to learning.
"We promote doing things themselves, as they can," said Ericca Benoit, with the lessons starting as simple as putting away books and pushing in your chair. "Life skills to get them to gear up to grow up."
"Here, this is their job (to learn)," said Michael Benoit, Ericca’s father-in-law and husband of child care center Director Lois Benoit. The Benoits have operated comprehensive child care at 647 Johnson Hill Road in North Hoosick for the past 28 years, formerly under the name of Morning Star Daycare & Preschool. This past April, Morning Star closed, and this June Cornerstone opened, in the process changing from a secular day care center to a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian center.
"My experience is people are drawn to the nondenominational approach," said Michael, the pastor at nearby Cornerstone Fellowship Church. "The need is resounding to build a moral fabric into this generation," he said, with early childhood a "prime opportunity to build good character right now."
"Parents want their children to get a good foundation."
While the former center ran into financial difficulty, Ericca and husband Nathan’s involvement represent a new turn for the center, located in a community where the options are limited.
For working parents who commute to Saratoga Springs, Albany, or Bennington, Vt., Cornerstone’s extended hours allow them to drop off and pick up their children as convenient. Providing child care to infants, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children up to the age of 12, parents can drop children off for school at Cornerstone, and/or have the bus let them off there in the afternoon.
Cornerstone is a licensed, full-time child care center participating in New York’s Quality Stars program, a new rating and improvement system in the process of being implemented. Safety and certification standards for accredited center-based child care prove far more stringent compared to family-based programs.
Pointing to some of the new required criteria -- like two exits in every room, a wheel-able crib for every infant, staffing regulations, and separate playgrounds and buildings for younger and older children -- the center also recently received a general facelift and new coat of paint on every wall. "We had to hit the reset button," said Michael.
"The old center we ran with our hearts, and we ran out of business. This one we’re going to run with our hearts and our minds," he said. Son Nathan Benoit has stepped in to run the center’s daily business operations.
Cornerstone staff are described as "vibrant, young, energetic students" pursuing degrees in early childhood development. Each has earned a minimum number of hours in Childhood Development Accreditation and receives continuing training. They’re screened and also certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid.
For more information, call 518-686-7408 or visit www.cornerstonechildcare.org
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