Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

R'Club expands its child care programs with acquisition of Coordinated Child Care

ST. PETERSBURG

The R'Club, a name synonymous with before- and after-school care in Pinellas County, is expanding its role with the acquisition of another well-known child care agency.

The R'Club has taken over the financially struggling Coordinated Child Care, its $1 million Pinellas Park building, two Clearwater preschools, roughly 60 employees and several contracts. The May 30 acquisition will add $5 million to R'Club's annual budget.

Coordinated Child Care, a nonprofit that served low-income children, will cease to exist, but it's unlikely that families, day care owners and others dependent on its services will notice, said Arthur O'Hara, R'Club's executive director.

"I think six months down the road that they will like what they are getting even better," he said.

R'Club has 45 locations that serve 3,000 preschool to middle school children. The acquisition will boost the number of child care centers it operates to 11, including two new ones that will open in August.

The Lew Williams Center for Early Learning will be based at the Pinellas Technical Education Center in St. Petersburg. Targeted to low-income children ages 1 to 4, it is funded by the Juvenile Welfare Board, Head Start, the Early Learning Coalition and the Pinellas County School District, which owns the building and will provide certified teachers for 3- and 4-year-old classrooms.

The other new facility will open at the St. Petersburg headquarters of American Strategic Insurance, off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N and Gandy Boulevard.

"As a company, it was our goal when we decided to build the new headquarters that it would be nice, ideal, to have a day care center on site," said ASI executive vice president Kevin Milkey, adding that R'Club is leasing the first floor space.

"We had a business partner who was familiar with R'Club and so we contacted them and decided they were a good fit and had a good reputation and just seemed perfect for our needs," he said.

The center will offer 206 slots, with priority given to ASI employees.

Paul Runyon, until recently Coordinated Child Care's executive director, said the agency's acquisition was prompted by changes in how funds were being administered and services delivered. The agency, which saw itself as a centralized stop for applications for subsidized day care and operator of early childhood and after-school and summer programs, lost some of its responsibilities to other groups. It also took a hit from a bad economy, he said.

So, beginning in May 2012, it began taking a look at how to remain viable, Runyon said.

"I could continue to downsize the agency and make it work, but we decided to put children, families and child care providers ahead of ourselves," Runyon said. "In order for us to continue our services, we would have had to significantly cut our school-age programs."

R'Club, also a nonprofit, seemed an ideal partner.

The majority of Coordinated Child Care employees were hired by R'Club and have begun their move to R'Club's office at 4140 49th St. N in St. Petersburg. Coordinated Child Care's former Pinellas Park headquarters at 6500 102nd Ave. N is on the market.

Runyon, 49, who had been with Coordinated Child Care for 16 years, is job hunting.

He hopes Coordinated Child Care will be remembered for making decisions that were "in the best interest of the community," Runyon said. "R'Club was the best match."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

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