When The Children’s Place & Parent Education Center opened on June 26, 1978, Mary Gile wasn’t so sure it was sustainable.
She was one of a group of 20 parents who felt like Concord needed a place for families and children to gather – since there wasn’t anything like it in the area – but it also came with some reservations.
“When we opened, we weren’t sure we were going to be there for a week or a month,” Gile said. “But there needed to be a place for families to go for short term care.”
Turns out that Gile should have had a little more faith since The Children’s Place lasted that first month – and many more after it. In fact, next Tuesday (June 26) will make four decades of operation and what do you do when hit the big 4-0? You have a big celebration.
We know that a Tuesday is not the ideal day for a birthday party, but when you’re turning 40, you should have it on the actual big day.
And while The Children’s Place is all about the kids, this celebration is for adults. Because in addition to cake, light refreshments and learning a little bit more about what the facility is and how it works, it’s also acting as a fundraiser.
The Children’s Place is in need of a new playground and one of the parents has put together quite the plan for a brand new one. The only sticking point is the $10,000 price tag that comes along with it.
Half of that amount has been taken care of thanks to a generous donation in the form of a $5,000 grant from the Concord Garden Club. The remainder is what they hope to raise at next week’s birthday fundraiser and from those who can’t make the celebration but want to help.
If you’re not familiar with The Children’s Place, it presents a unique opportunity for parents and children. While it serves as a place for childcare, it’s not the kind of place where you drop the kiddos off on the way to work and pick them up on the way home after a full, eight-hour day.
First of all, to take advantage of the childcare, you must have a membership, which is only $35 a year.
Then you can use the flexible and short term childcare options. It’s billed on a per block basis, with one block equal to four hours of childcare. And just so it’s clear, they’re state licensed.
“We want to be available to every family,” Gile said. “And we’ve always tried to keep our rates low.”
Children under 3 are limited to one half block of time (two hours) per day, while children 3 and over can go for one block of time (four hours) per day.
The Children’s Place is open Monday through Friday, but parents can only use the service at most four days a week.
“We’re a family grouping as we call it, so the kids are all together,” Gile said.
But for work at home moms like Ashley Haglund and Elizabeth Remsen it can provide the opportunity to get some work done in a short amount of time – uninterrupted.
Haglund’s son is under a year, so he only goes once a week for two hours and she even stays and works in one of the two parent rooms setup just for that reason.
“I needed an hour or so of time and this is the only place you can do drop in,” Haglund said. “And you have no idea how much I can get done in an hour.”
Remsen found The Children’s Place when her son Jackson turned one and began to walk, and has been going for the last couple years.
“Since I work from home, it gave me the opportunity to give Jackson time for socialization,” Remsen said.
She brings him two to four days a week, and uses the upstairs parent room to get her work done. Remsen has also joined the nonprofit’s board and met other moms that has led to get togethers and play dates outside of The Children’s Place.
But there’s more than just childcare at The Children’s Place. Every Friday, they host Baby Talk from 9:30 to 11 a.m. where parents of children up to 12 months can come and meet other parents.
“It’s a safe place for moms to come to and ask questions,” Remsen said.
There’s also the Toddler Play Group from 12:30 to 2 p.m. for families and children ages 12 months to 3 years. It offers activities like free play, song time, outdoor play (weather permitting), and crafts, and is a great way for children to interact with other similar aged children.
“We’re really here to help families and their needs,” said Karen Juall, executive director of The Children’s Place.
On the third Saturday of the month, they host a two-hour Stay and Play for families that are typically themed and loads of fun. And to top it all off, they also periodically hold parent education programs.
“There’s a lot that goes into this place,” Gile said. “It’s really a unique place for families to gather.”
The Children’s Place is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For more information, visit thechildrensplacenh.org or call 224-9920.