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Wauwatosa parents scrambling after new construction forces day care to close

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-12 19:00:13-04

WAUWATOSA — Dozens of Wauwatosa parents are scrambling after a day care announced it is being forced to close due to a new construction project.

Wauwatosa Daycare has been leasing a building on the St. Camillus campus for the last 19 years, but that comes to an end next month as St. Camillus plans to tear it down to build a new senior living center.

Parents of 55 kids who attend Wauwatosa Daycare, including Megan Harwig, suddenly find themselves in a major dilemma.

“As of yesterday, they notified us that as of July 26 they will be shutting down the St. Camillus location,” she said.

Harwig received a letter Tuesday notifying her that the St. Camillus assisted living campus plans to replace the day care with a high-rise upscale senior apartment complex.

“It’s terrible," Harwig said. "As a working mom, it’s not easy to find childcare so I’ve been spending my days seeing about the wait list."

St. Camillus CEO Kevin Schwab calls it a difficult business decision.

“We had to make a decision that was not easy to make, but it comes at a significant cost so it was a decision that had to be made, unfortunately,” Schwab said.

Wauwatosa Daycare co-owner Colleen Heinowski said the finalized plans came to them in May. She said they haven’t been able to find another location for their day care in Wauwatosa.

“Commercial space can be difficult for childcare,” she said. “A lot of renovation would be needed. We would not be able to get that done in the time frame.”

Harwig said the shortest day care wait lists in the area for her 1-year-old wouldn’t be an option until late fall.

“It’s terrible. As a working mom, it’s not easy to find childcare so I’ve been spending my days seeing about the wait list." — parent Megan Harwig

“I would have to take a leave of absence from my job until I could find childcare,” she said.

Heinowski is well aware of the infant childcare shortage in Wauwatosa.

“We have waiting lists at both of our locations that can go out almost a year for infant care because it is a 1-to-4 ratio for infants,” she said. "These families are not going to just call a childcare center and just get in, in this time frame. It is impossible, and we feel absolutely horrible about that.”

Schwab said they are abiding their leasing terms with Wauwatosa Daycare by giving them a 90-day notice.