Merrimack Valley Day Care Services gives kids a place to grow

Kids take part in a Music and Movement lesson at Merrimack Valley Day Care Service in Concord. Courtesy of Merrimack Valley Day Care Service
Kids take part in a Music and Movement lesson at Merrimack Valley Day Care Service in Concord. Courtesy of Merrimack Valley Day Care Service

Every year as the calendar inches closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s typical for people and businesses to start thinking about those in need in the community and what they can do to help.

At the Merrimack Valley Day Care Service, that spirit of helping runs strong all year long. Since parents usually have to work all year long, that means the kids always need a place to be, and that’s where MVDCS comes in.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the service provides high-quality daily child care for Concord-area families that don’t have strong economic resources. The organization prioritizes care for children with the greatest need – those who might be at risk of abuse/neglect, those who come from low-income families and children with special needs.

“Our main mission is we provide child care to children on a sliding scale according to family income and size,” said Marianne Barter, executive director of Merrimack Valley Day Care Service.

That means there is no set tuition – everybody pays what they can, and sometimes they don’t pay at all. The purpose is to provide a safe and hospitable environment for kids to spend the day while their parents work, attend class, train for employment or look for jobs. After all, it can be pretty hard for Mom or Dad to interview for a job with a 1-year-old in tow.

“Everybody deserves to have high-quality child care,” Barter said. “We make it possible for families who don’t have strong economic resources to afford high-quality child care.”

The day care service has been a savoir to countless families – and more than 6,000 kids – over the decades, Barter said, and many staff members and volunteers were first introduced to the day care when they attended it themselves as kids. And they usually don’t have any trouble finding the families who need their services.

“They usually come finding us,” Barter said. “We’ve been around 50 years, so there’s strong word of mouth. We also get referrals from the state, DCYF, and also a lot of alumni.”

As important as this work is, it’s equally important for the community to pitch in to make sure the place can keep providing the level of care it has grown accustom to over half a century.

As well as offering day care Monday through Friday all year, the service also provides essential items for certain families with a high level of need, and they could use some help from the public with donations.

Some items in high demand right now – and at all times, really – include gift cards for grocery stores and places like Walmart, as well as gas cards to help families get to the day care and to work. They’ll also take monetary donations, which will be used to buy supplies and offset tuition costs. There is no deadline to submit donations.

“We usually try to keep gift cards around because, frankly, food stamps can be shut off at any time,” Barter said. “We take donations of everything, like food, clothes, housewares. And we have a donation area in our center where parents can come and walk through and see if they need anything.”

If you’re interested in helping out the program – or applying to enroll your child in the day care – call 224-1632. The center is located at 19 N. Fruit St., where there is a donation area on site. This is the organization’s primary site, but there are four sites in Concord and one in Boscawen. Just call for more info.

Author: Jon Bodell

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