By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Brenau closing its child development center
06032021 Brenau
Dawn Marie Bernhard's daughter Ruby, 4, will have to attend preschool elsewhere with the closing of the child development center at Brenau University. Photo courtesy Dawn Marie Bernhard.

Brenau University announced Tuesday that it will close its child development center on June 25.

The center offers full-time child care for children 6 months to 4 years old. The center has been closed to the public since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. It is still only open to university staff and will not be open to the community before it shuts down all services near the end of the month.

The decision to close the center had been under consideration for the past five years, said Matt Thomas, vice president for external relations and communications. Enrollment at the center has dropped in the last five years, and the cost per child for the center has increased, Thomas said.

The center normally had 35 to 40 participants at all age levels pre-pandemic, and 75% of those enrolled were from the Gainesville community with 25% from the Brenau community, Thomas said. At times during the pandemic, the center was down to fewer than 10 participants per month, he said. “We have not been at capacity at any point in the last several years,” Thomas said. “The capacity issue does not take into account the reality of the cost of the (center) being offset by other operational dollars at Brenau. In recent history, the enrollment of the (center) has never been able to fully underwrite its operational cost.”

The price per child was $162 per week for Brenau staff and $182 per week for Gainesville community members.

“No reasonable increase in tuition could meet the outstanding need,” Thomas said.

Those enrolled at the center and those planning to enroll in June will be given recommendations for other local providers by Laura Hylton, director of the Child Development Center, Thomas said.

Dawn Marie Bernhard, who works in Brenau’s fundraising department, will have to look elsewhere for her 4-year-old daughter Ruby. Ruby has attended the center since the fall of 2019. Bernhard was notified yesterday afternoon that the center would be closing, and she was provided with a number of options for comparable child care in the area as well as help for the transition process, she said. 

“The center was one of the reasons we decided to come here,” Bernhard said. “But there are some great options in the area.”
She is looking at the Elachee Nature Science Center for the fall, she said. 

“I’m thankful that we’ve had the time that we have had with the (center), and it’s going to be a little bit of a commute for us in the fall to get her over to Elachee and then to get back here,” Bernhard said. “But it’s one of those things where I understand the bottom line as well. You have to do what is right for the institution to keep on keeping on.”

Friends to Follow social media