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Kids R Kids' child care center opening delayed

(ran PC edition of PT)

Despite its delayed opening, parents in Westchase are flooding the Kids R Kids child care center with inquiries.

"We've had a tremendous response," said Steven Silvers, owner of the new center, which will care for up to 295 children. "I'd say about 25 to 30 calls a week."

The center, which will accept newborns to 12-year-olds, should open in April or May. Last June, when Kids R Kids signed a contract on the 2-acre parcel west of Westchase Elementary School on Linebaugh Avenue, Silvers hoped the center would be open by January. The land has been cleared but construction is behind schedule. Silvers expects the 14,000 square-foot center will take four months to build.

Atlanta-based Kids R Kids has more than 70 centers around the country. The closest is in Hunters Creek, a planned community in Orlando that is owned by the same developer that owns Westchase. At that center, care for infants through preschoolers ranges from $100 to $140 a week. Before- and after-school care costs $45 to $55 a week.

Like most of the other centers, the Westchase facility will offer parents a chance to watch their children via the Internet. Cameras are installed in every room so that parents can plug in a password on their computers at work or home and observe their children.

The technology gets mixed reviews: Many parents at other centers rave about the ability to feel more in touch with their children while they work, while critics fear that the cameras will invade children's privacy and make them vulnerable to strangers. Locally, Silvers said parents who have inquired all approve of the Internet monitoring.

Silvers will run the center with his wife, Joy. They recently moved from Pembroke Pines to Tampa and bought a house in Westchase. Silvers said he isn't accepting money until he has a concrete opening date and will call parents in the order that they contact him. He expects to start taking applications late this month.