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Zeba Traore, 5, left, Sakina Coltier, 4, Keely Caffee, 5, and Joseph Le, 5, hit up the slides at the Schneider Children's Center in Ashland on Tuesday. Daily Tidings / Jamie Lusch

Lil' Rascals to open at former Schneider Children's Center site

Childcare will return to the Southern Oregon University campus starting Monday, Jan. 7. Lil’ Rascals Preschool and Childcare Center is set to open a second location at the former Schneider Children’s Center (SCC) site, 1361 Quincy St., Ashland.

The SCC closed Aug. 31, after SOU student government voted to stop subsidizing the center, according to Joe Mosley, SOU director of community and media relations.

“It was a combination of factors,” Mosley said. “It was never run by the university But it had a long history and was originally subsidized by student fees.”

Childcare is offered at a 10 percent discount to SOU students and employees. Lil’ Rascals will operate the new Ashland facility with at least eight employees, owner Angela Green said. They are currently accepting applications and encourage SOU students to apply.

“Lil’ Rascals will try to accommodate the needs of former Schneider Children’s Center clients and its own customers from its previous Ashland location,” Greene said. “I’m really hoping we can come back to the community and provide quality service that works for everybody. I know that everybody loved Schneider and hopefully they’ll love us too.”

They’ll care for about 50 kids ranging in ages from 6 weeks to 5 years old. Greene said most of the infant and toddler slots are filled, and she encourages any clients interested in care for that age group to sign up now.

Call the Lil’ Rascals Medford location at 541-773-1598 to inquire about childcare and employment for the new location.

Greene said interested clients can also sign up at an open house from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at 1361 Quincy St.

Mosley said Schneider’s business model was unsustainable and in 2014, the student government decided to stop subsidizing the center with student fees, and instead put the fees into a fund from which students could directly receive money for childcare.

“They (students) could receive money from the fund directly,” Mosley said. “So, it wasn’t directly benefiting the Schneider’s Children’s Center, and that was unsustainable.”

A year later, students voted to redirect part of the funding to the center. But last year, the decision was made again to stop funding the center altogether.

A task force analyzed the operation and its business model, decided it was unmaintainable and then the decision was made to cut the center out of the budget. SCC did not qualify to receive funding from the university because it operated as an auxiliary program.

So, the Wilsonville-based Oregon Child Development Coalition decided to partner with SCC, but recent changes in the state’s day care regulations ultimately made that arrangement unworkable, Mosley said.

The university received four proposals from different childcare providers and conducted interviews with the two most serious contenders, Mosley said.

“We are very happy to have another daycare provider,” Mosley said. “They (Lil’ Rascals) did have a good history in this area.”

Lil’ Rascals operated in Ashland for 15 years, before the building they leased was sold to build low-income housing in 2016, Lil’ Rascals owner Greene said. They’ve since opened a location in Medford, and the new Ashland facility will serve as their second location.

“We’re really excited to come back to Ashland. We worked very hard to provide care there before,” Greene said. “We are ecstatic to provide for the Ashland community again.”

Greene said she just signed the two-year lease last week, so details, such as pricing, haven’t been determined yet.

“We’re going to try to make it as affordable as possible,” Greene said.

The center accepts state subsidies for low-income clients.

“It hurts the entire community because there’s a giant gap of no childcare offered in Ashland and the ones there are, are often full,” Greene said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to bridge that gap in care for our community.”

Contact Daily Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

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