A few weeks ago, we announced that as part of an effort to be more intentional about meeting the needs in our community, we established the Ashworth Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit with the express intent of providing programs, offering services, and engaging in other activities that promote and support low and medium-income individuals in West Des Moines. To listen to a conversation between Pastor Brent and Pastor Ryan on this, click here.
Our first initiative is the Ashworth Learning Center, a full-day daycare for children 6 weeks old through 5 years we hope to open in August 2021. The Learning Center will accept state funding for a majority of the children it enrolls so that the daycare supports low and medium-income families. After meetings with WDM Human Services and seeing the push for additional childcare by local entities like the Des Moines United Way and the Iowa legislature, we believed this project was the right fit at the right time.
Ashworth Church can accommodate a daycare because we have approximately 5,000 square feet of building space used less than two hours a week. The church will lease the space to the Learning Center, ensuring the daycare can be financially self-sustaining while also covering the additional expenses the church might incur for the building use (i.e., utilities, maintenance, etc.).
The Ashworth Learning Center will be able to accommodate 62 children utilizing six rooms in the education wing of the church with potential for expansion in the future to serve over 80 kids and a summer program for elementary age kids utilizing the basement.
Some modifications have to be made to the building to bring it up to code. The church nursery will be moved from its current location to Room 1 (with a temporary stop in Room 2 during the renovation process). The wall between the current nursery and bed babies room will be removed to consolidate these rooms and allow for larger class size. To maximize capacity and meet building and licensing codes, exterior doors will be added to the existing bed babies room and Room 5. And even though we plan to work with Hy-Vee for meals and snacks for the daycare, we are required to add a small grease interceptor in the kitchen, requiring some modifications there as well.
Kerri Clark has agreed to serve as our initial daycare director to help us get through the licensing process and get the daycare off the ground. Additionally, depending on enrollment, we will be hiring up to eleven teachers and staff.
The Ashworth Learning Center is a large undertaking but not uncharted territory for the church. In the ’80s and ’90s, the church had a daycare and preschool. We believe starting a daycare gives us the best potential for utilizing the space we have that is currently being underused while meeting the real, tangible needs of those in our community. Plus, it gives us a new way to meet and reach out to families that might not realize how life-changing following Jesus can be.
Please pray for the Ashworth Learning Center, Kerri Clark, and the future staff. Be understanding in the coming months as we reconfigure space in the church and create a bit of a mess during the renovation. And if you feel so moved, give to support such a worthy need at https://ashworth.church/give and choose Learning Center from the drop-down.