September 23, 2020

Children’s Center to remain open> Board of trustees reverses decision to close operation

LUBEC — The Quoddy Bay Children’s Center, scheduled to close at the end of February, will remain open after a decision Thursday by the Regional Medical Center at Lubec’s board of trustees.

The trustees, in a prepared statement Friday, said their decision to keep the only licensed day-care facility in Lubec open was based “in no small measure” on the “enthusiastic and positive support” of individual parents and the recently formed Quoddy Bay Children’s Center Parents’ Group.

“The efforts of the Parents’ Group over the last few months to support the Children’s Center and the quality of its staff and program is much appreciated by the trustees,” the announcement said.

The action taken Jan. 20 reverses a Nov. 17, 1993, decision in which the RMCL board of trustees had voted to close Quoddy Bay Children’s Center, effective Dec. 30, 1993. The projected closure date later was changed to the end of February.

Last November, RMCL trustees blamed “sweeping changes” in the health-care system and “the very disproportionate amount” of time devoted to the child-care program by RMCL’s trustees and administration as key reasons behind their initial decision to close the child-care center.

While acknowledging that child-care services were needed greatly in Lubec, trustees said that Quoddy Bay Children’s Center had “deflected” limited board and staff time from fulfilling the medical center’s primary mission of providing health care and disease prevention services.

In an attempt to save the facility from closure, area parents quickly formed the Quoddy Bay Children’s Center Parents Group.

The Lubec Board of Selectmen entered the fray in December, by openly criticizing the trustees’ decision to close the center. Lubec Town Office Manager Mark Decoteau was directed by selectmen to draft a letter to the medical center’s trustees, protesting the trustees’ decision.

At the time, Selectman Reggie Sawtelle emphasized that the facility provided many parents an opportunity to work or to return to school to improve themselves and learn new skills. He called the center “one of the few bright spots in the town of Lubec.”

The facility’s closure would have affected more than 20 children whose working parents rely on the center for their child-care needs. Without the service many working parents would have been forced to leave their jobs to care for their children at home.

Additionally, several part-time and three full-time employees, including Cora Lyons, director at Quoddy Bay Children’s Center, would have been forced out of work had the closure decision not been reversed.

Licensed by the Maine Department of Human Services, the Quoddy Bay Children’s Center opened about five years ago and continues to operate in the basement at RMCL.

Two years ago, the children’s center expanded its operation to include care for babies as young as 6 weeks old. Quoddy Bay Children’s Center continues to offer part- and full-time weekday care for infants and toddlers through preschoolers, in addition to after-school programs for older children, up to age 12.

The facility is funded through grants, donations, user fees and other sources. In some cases, services are provided, wholly or in part, through government subsidies.

In announcing their Jan. 20 decision to keep the center open, trustees praised Lyons and her staff for their “professionalism and dedication … during this difficult few months. They have continued to serve the children with their usual caring and energy,” trustees said, “even while their own jobs were on the line.”

According to the trustees’ statement, the medical center’s basement will undergo renovations “starting in the next few months” to accommodate a larger preschool operation.

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