homepage logo

Workforce to benefit from new daycare center

By Staff | Aug 18, 2016

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary A ground breaking ceremony took place Thursday morning, August 11 at Families United Network, Inc. for their new child care facility to open in late spring of 2017. Left to right: Jim Ross, one of the founders and board vice-president; Tom Neuhard, President & CEO; Joe Smith, Chair; Vickie Johnson, Operations Manager; and Jason Dohl, General Contractor.

MUNCY – A growing network of opportunity plus a dire need for their services, keep Families United Network, Inc. at an economic advantage. With a twenty year history, the organization has proven to be a leader in child welfare services, and they keep progressing.

A ground breaking ceremony took place on Thursday, August 11 for a new child care center to be built on the grounds of the administrative offices in Muncy Township on Ashler Manor Drive. The non-profit organization serves several youth agencies throughout the state of Pennsylvania providing care for foster children and adoptions.

Now they will be providing a service for pre-school children, before and after school care and eventually elder care for those in Lycoming County. It will be open for local employers and residents in the area. “This will be good for mall employees too,” replied Vickie Johnson, ” to utilize the day care. I think it will be a great program and we’ll keep expanding to meet the needs of the people.”

According to Johnson who is Operations Manager, a “sick bay” will also be added. Often a child will strike an illness while at school and a working parent may not be able to come right away, she said.

“This is a unique concept with a LPN or RN on staff.” Two playgrounds will also be available, one indoors for toddlers and another outdoors.

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Joe Smith, Chair of Families United Network, Inc. spoke of the history of the non-profit organization that began 16 years ago to provide child welfare services and adoptions for foster children. The property located at Ashler Manor in Muncy Township was purchased 20 years ago by Allen Ertel, Bill Brown and Jim Ross.

Known as the Fun Academy, the new center that will be in operation sometime in the spring of 2017, can take up to 60 children to meet the guidelines of child to staff ratio. “We will be working with three other local day care centers under St. John Neuman,” Johnson explained. “We acquired it. We know what the problems are.” Currently the children attend day care at the Church of Resurrection in Muncy.

Another need is day care for infants, also to be provided, and summer programs. “We are big planners here,” announced Thomas Neuhard, President and CEO during his opening speech at the ground breaking. “We will have structured programs now for all ages.”

Joe Smith, Chair, compared growth statistics over the past 16 years. “Allen Ertel and Jim Ross purchased the property in 1994, and their vision has led us here today.” Now Families United Network, Inc. has 215 foster kids from 119, and 167 employees from 56.

Smith also talked about adding a senior care center. “There are no elder day care services here in Lycoming County.” This component will be added later but plans are in the design phase and the space has been allotted. It will not be a live-in facility, but a drop-off day care for older adults.

The new facility will be located across the tennis courts and is now in the early stages with zoning approvals from the Lycoming County Planning Commission. Jason Dohl from Hughesville, project manager and general contractor, said public water and sewer were added six years ago which helps with the expansion of adding a 17,000 sq. foot facility. The tree removal took place last Monday. “The Muncy Township supervisors guided us through this complex process,” Dohl said. Architect for the project is Susan McGarry, also from Hughesville and Glenn Hawbaker was hired for site design and construction.

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Sam and Michael Fuller from Hughesville are looking at future plans and their classroom for the new day care facility being built at Ashler Manor. Both boys are currently enrolled in the Fun Academy at the Church of Resurrection which will move to the new facility when completed.

Molly Fuller who teaches at Hughesville High School said she plans on taking her two sons, Michael and Sam to the new facility. They are currently enrolled at Church of Resurrection, and have been there since 2009. “I wanted to see what the new facility looks like, and Sam wanted to see where his new classroom will be,” Fuller said. The boys have been part of Fun Academy since they were born, she added.

Funding for the expansion is being absorbed within the organization itself which operates two Life Readiness Group Homes to prepare adolescent boys and girls as they age-out of the child welfare system. The females are located here at Ashler Manor and males reside at Arborvale Manor in Millersville, PA. There are also 12 females ages 16-21 who reside in York.