It is with sadness and several regrets that I announce our beloved Little Wings Early Learning Center will close its doors after the 2020 summer session. I regret that our amazing, caring and dedicated staff who love teaching children each day will be seeking new opportunities. I regret that a few of our current students, who hoped to be back in the fall, will be transitioning to other preschools. I regret that families in this community who love Little Wings as “their” preschool (including my own) will no longer get to drop in and reminisce with their favorite teachers in their favorite classrooms. I cannot begin to answer all the questions you, our families, and the community will have in this initial communication, but we are open to any additional questions you may have.
There were many efforts made to try to prevent this decision and improve the financial health of the program. Our Directors of Family & Children Services and Little Wings Director have provided terrific leadership and the teachers have been adaptable and resilient. After two years of research and changes, all opportunities to achieve sustainability have been exhausted. Nationwide, it is a financial challenge to operate a child care center that is of the highest quality, is affordable to families, and pays teachers a living wage. Little Wings is all of these, and we are not willing to compromise on quality just to fill classrooms and generate revenue.
The harsh reality is that we have not had a demand for 2.5-5 year-old preschool. Over the years, public options for 3-5 year olds have increased, and the community can leverage state and federal resources to serve children with the most need. However, the demand for infant and toddler slots is tremendous. Our available space on campus does not accommodate infant and toddler classrooms.
While we are not in a position to open the much needed infant and toddler rooms, we will leverage our strong community partnerships and expertise in Healthy Families to continue serving families with children ages 0-3. We are engaged in the local Bridges to Progress childcare committee studying the infant and toddler childcare crises and we intend to be part of the solution. We will continue to support the efforts of other public and private preschools by offering families our awesome wrap around services.
It may come as a relief to know that half the children in Little Wings head to kindergarten this fall and the rest have public and private options for preschool. Our directors will work closely with families to connect them with programs that meet their individual needs. As part of our commitment to investing in our people, all Little Wings staff will receive a severance package. By providing more than 5 months advance notice, parents and staff have time to plan for this fall following the July 31st closure. Due to this transition, summer care will only be provided for current Little Wings preschool students. We have reached out to families who have utilized Little Wings for school-age summer camp and provided a list of other available camp resources.
At the time we opened, in collaboration with Lynchburg College, Randolph College, and Lynchburg City Schools, there were not enough high quality early learning classrooms in Lynchburg. In twelve years, Little Wings has served more than 300 children and provided more than $3 million in charitable care and education. While I regret the decision to close, our board, leadership and staff will never regret providing the highest quality early childhood development center in our community to children with a wide range of economic, emotional and learning needs. We have truly strengthened families and our community.