YMCA Of Northwoods Eyes South Park School For Large Daycare Center

Nov 7, 2019

The former South Park School
Credit WXPR

The YMCA of the Northwoods in Rhinelander has been offering child care services for years.

A big announcement this week finds the "Y" in the process of purchasing the former South Park School, not far from the Trig's mall.

The building became available for purchase and this week  the Rhinelander Planning Commission gave its approval. Child care has become a critical need in the region as several child care facilities have closed.

Ken Krall spoke with "Y" CEO Ryan Zietlow, about the ambitious effort to bring more care to the area...

YMCA of the Northwoods CEO Ryan Zietlow with Ken Krall. The Rhinelander Common Council is expected to consider approving  the purchase Monday night.

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There's a shortage of child care in the Northwoods.

But an announcement this week by the YMCA of the Northwoods will mean a big step toward providing more childcare.

CEO Ryan Zietlow said the "Y" is in process of buying the former South Park School near Trig's Mall in Rhinelander. The school had been a School District of Rhinelander property and lately was operated by Bethesda. The school was vacant, and Zietlow says they saw an opportunity to help people.

During a strategic planning session, they identified as a community need more daycare...

"...We know we live in a child care desert. This isn't enough accessible spots in our community. It really impact workforce development. We have issues with workforce shortage. We need every talented person in the workforce that we possible can. If we can provide accessible, quality child care, we know we can help the workforce shortage issue, we can work on economic development and we can work on community development..."

They currently serve about 60 children and the former school would allow a doubling of that number.

Zietlow says they're early in the process, so the exact dollar amount needed for the renovation is unknown at this time. He says not only is child care hard to find, it can be unaffordable for a working family which Zietlow says they also would like to fix...

"...Child care affordability needs to be a local, state and federal discussion in order to solve what the child care crisis is. Here at the "Y", we're going to look at how do we partner with business and industry and employers on child care subsidies. How can we make child care less burdensome and more affordable for families who work here in the Northwoods..."

Zietlow says they would like to have South Park renovated by summer 2020 so parents can make plans to bring their children there next fall.

The matter passed the Rhinelander Planning Commission this week and is likely to go to the full common council Monday.