By Ashley Rader
When the Community Daycare and Learning Center closes its doors Friday, it will be for the final time.
After being a part of Elizabethton for 43 years, the center is ending operations.
Center director Ruth Sanders said the center’s board of directors made the decision to close the day care after it had faced years of declining enrollment and financial concerns.
“This had been coming for two or three years,” Sanders said. “We have been cutting as much as we could. It didn’t seem to be getting any better. It was time to make that decision.”
Board chair Rebecca Nunley said because the day care operates as a nonprofit, it has always operated on a tight budget. However, the situation grew worse over the years.
“The goal has never been to make money,” Nunley said. “We have always been right at that line. Before we had been able to see ways to fix it when the money was running short, and now we don’t have a way. Some of the agencies we have relied on in the past are no longer able to help.”
Sanders said the center operates on a $200,000 annual budget.
Funding comes from the Tennessee Department of Human Services voucher program, the Elizabethton/Carter County United Way, the city of Elizabethton, Carter County government, donations from churches and private individuals and tuition from children enrolled in the day care. The weekly tuition for children is $95 per week, which Sanders said was lower than most day cares in the area.
She said the center has around $25,000 in debt from different costs of daily operations, such as utilities and supplies.
Part of the funding shortfall goes back to the state vouchers for child care.