MOUNDRIDGE — Cradle to Crayons Director Casie Wiens is tackling the daycare's waiting list by spearheading expansion efforts.

"I had a waiting list for this summer — I had to turn about 15 school-age kids away for summer care," Wiens said. "...People are in desperate need of it and it's just not available."

Cradle to Crayons is a state-licensed, nonprofit childcare center run by Associated Ministries of Moundridge. It provides daycare for up to 79 children ages 2 weeks through 5 years old and after-school care for children 5 to 12 years old, along with all-day care for school-age children when USD 423 is not in session.  

"We are the only daycare in Moundridge," Wiens said. "...Hesston is the next closest one. We've always had a long waiting list. We have lots of kids needing care and we just can't cover it."

Moving the preschool program over to USD 423 freed up a little bit of space, but also necessitated putting school-age children into what had formerly been the storm shelter room.

"Now, the problem is the kids who are going into kindergarten will need to be put into the school-age room next summer," Wiens said. "We have eight in there now and seven coming up — and we can only have eight in that room."

Noticing a large garage building on the property east of their building was only partly being used, Wiens asked the board of directors if half of it could serve as an additional classroom. They responded by approving renovations for the whole building, giving the daycare two classrooms that will hold up to 30 students.

"We're excited about that; we're growing," Wiens said.

It will take an estimated $70,000 to renovate the classrooms, which will be aided by a $19,205 grant recently awarded from the Moundridge Community Foundation.

"Bradbury is giving us the metal for a new roof and Moridge is helping with the installation costs," Wiens said. "...I think the businesses really understand the importance of having a childcare center."

The churches in Moundridge also support Cradle to Crayons.

"We manage our day-to-day things, but it's really hard, as a nonprofit, to do those big things," Wiens said. "...I think, with the expansion, we'll be able to support ourselves even more, though."

Cradle to Crayons will also have a fireworks stand open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 27 through July 5 at Moundridge Food Market, 101 Ave. A, with sales benefitting the classroom renovations.

For more information about Cradle to Crayons, visit https://c2cmoundridge.weebly.com/ or call 620-345-2390.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.