After 47 years, Wee Care goes full-time
Published 8:47 am Wednesday, August 9, 2023
LAPLACE — For the first time in its 47-year history in LaPlace, First Baptist Church Wee Care Center is making the leap from a mother’s day out program to a full-time, five day a week daycare and preschool.
Wee Care Center is now licensed through the State of Louisiana Department of Education as a Type I Center, providing care for children ages 10 months through 5 years. Wee Care is now open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at 120 Ormond Blvd. in LaPlace, with an aftercare program running from 3 to 6 p.m. daily.
A part-time option is still available at three days a week for the 1-year-old to 3-year-old classes. The 4-year-old class will be five days a week.
While registration is accepted year-round for the youngest classes, Director Karen Stanley said limited class spaces for the 3-year-old and 4-year-old classes close by October to ensure children benefit from the preschool curriculum without falling behind.
Wee Care Center opened in 1976 as a daycare ministry for First Baptist Church of LaPlace. Today, Wee Care’s mission is to provide a Christ centered program where, through nurturing and encouragement, children will grow in spiritual maturity, modeling the morals, values and characteristics of a Christian lifestyle. While the facility is connected to the church both physically and spiritually, it operates as its own facility with standalone funds.
Wee Care Center has had only a handful of directors throughout the decades. Stanley stepped in as director in Spring 2021 with the intention of leading the transformation into a five-day facility. While Hurricane Ida posed some setbacks, the Wee Care team has remained committed to offering quality childcare to local families.
“We put a feeler out into the community about five years ago asking what families in our area need. We found that there was a need for a clean, Christian environment that was five days,” Stanley said.
Stanley and Director Designee Julia Herbert have each resided in LaPlace for more than 30 years. Stanley has been a member of First Baptist Church of LaPlace since she was a child. While other kids talked about plans to chase dreams across the country, Stanley’s biggest dream was to stay close to home and care for the babies at Wee Care.
Stanley said Wee Care Center aims to keep classes on a smaller scale to give individual attention and the love of Christ to each of the children. State required staff to child ratios are always maintained, and in most cases, Wee Care strives to have fewer children per staff member. While the state requires one staff member per eight children for a 1-year-old class, Wee Care maintains a 1:6 ratio.
The center also accommodates appointments for early intervention physical, occupational and speech therapy services nmm including but not limited to Louisiana EarlySteps.
While some of the workers are friendly new faces, several of the teachers have been with Wee Care for well over a decade.
“We have one of the best staffs,” Stanley said. “One of the things I love about each and every one of our teachers is that when these kids walk through the door, these are their babies. We know them like they are our own children.”
Stanley is excited about the opportunities for growth that moving to five days a week will provide, particularly for the preschool children.
“Our goal is to make sure they have fun learning so they can bring that with them when they go into elementary,” she said.
This year, the 3-year-olds will follow the Abeka curriculum, and the 4-year-olds will use Little People.
Cherie Hilbun is excited to promote early literacy within her 4-year-old class while instilling the life skills they will need for kindergarten and beyond.
“This year, we have smaller class numbers, so I’m looking forward to working one-on-one with them more, getting to know the kids a lot better, and having some individual time with them. We do small groups and large groups. We are working on sight words and hopefully getting them ready to read by the time they leave our pre-K 4 program,” Hilbun said. “We have a lot of structure here. We teach the kids to be very independent, so when they go to kindergarten, they are ready to succeed in whatever is thrown their way.”
Now entering her 17th year at Wee Care, Hilbun has had the surreal experience of working alongside some of her former preschool students who are now young adults. She’s taught multiple siblings from the same families and even the nieces and nephews of kids who once toddled around her classroom.
Herbert said the family atmosphere is what makes Wee Care feel like its own community within the community.
“We are a family here, genuinely; we all get along as coworkers and teachers. We are a family in the sense that we know not just the kids, but the families, too,” she said.
She added, “As a working mom myself, I know it is really important to have a place to bring your kids that you trust and feel comfortable with, not a place that’s just good enough, but where you really feel like your kids are thriving. There is no comparison to being able to have that. Being able to provide that for the community (five days a week) is a huge step up.”
The Wee Care calendar follows the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School holidays as closely as possible.
Monthly tuition is $360 for three days and $540 for five days. Sibling discounts are also offered.
For more information, call 985-652-4096, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find FBC Wee Care Center on Facebook.