Baby steps for new daycare center

April 17, 2009
By

DAVID TABER

JACKSON SQ.—Associated Early Care and Education (AECE) has joined the ranks of organizations with devel-opment projects that are falling behind schedule.

The childcare provider has been running a daycare out of a basement in the Bromley-Heath housing develop-ment for over 50 years. In June 2007, it proposed to construct a new, above-ground daycare center at 33-41 Bickford St.—the now-vacant former home of the Martha Eliot Health Center.

Originally, AECE had hoped to get started on demolishing the existing structure on the site and building the new two-story center in 2008. “Unfortunately, 2008 came and went,” AECE spokesperson Ellen Meltzer told the Gazette. “Now we are looking at 2010.”

The delays are due to financing issues, and because AECE—which runs childcare centers throughout the city—is new to development. “This is a major project for us,” Meltzer said.

The project will cost about $7.5 million, and right now AECE’s main focus is on fund-raising, she said.

AECE hopes to build a 17,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art center with community meeting space and space for social workers and other service providers on-site, Meltzer said. The campus will also include a play-ground and space for a vegetable garden that the children will help maintain “a la Michelle Obama,” Meltzer said.

The First Lady recently made national headlines for planting an extensive vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House.

“We are really looking to build something that is a model for early care in Boston,” Meltzer said.

When it is complete, the AECE daycare will take advantage of increased capacity to reach beyond its cli-ent base of Bromley-Heath residents. In its current space, the childcare provider can serve 85 children, but the new center will have space for about 124, she said. That will mean AECE can open the center to children from the rest of Hyde and Jackson Squares, and potentially the rest of JP and the city, she said.

“With the recession, things are challenging, but we are just going to keep moving forward,” she said.