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Child care groups face tough choices during cold weather

CREATED Jan 28, 2014

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ELMWOOD PARK - On a day when Milwaukee public schools cancelled classes, a number of daycares followed MPS' lead and did the same.  

"It's part of our mission to make sure our children stay safe. With the weather conditions that are outside, the brutal cold, little ones they can actually end up with frostbite a lot easier than adults," said Todd Beadle, president of St. Joseph Academy in Milwaukee.
But, Susan Koleta in Elmwood Park said it this way.  We aren't driving a horse and buggy. Our cars are heated. So where's the safety concern?
"A lot of different things can happen between when you leave your house and until you get to our building. It's cold outside, cars can break down. Todd Beadle, St. Joseph Academy
The decision to shut down schools isn't easy for anyone.  Superintendents of public schools wake up in the wee morning hours to hold conference calls with other districts to decide.  Daycare operators do something similar, trying to figure out what's best for everyone.
This very chilly day happens to be Gavin's 4th birthday.  He was getting dropped off at his grandma's house, but not for a party.
"Well we play bouncy ball every time the daycare closes and it involves the entire family. Someone either has to take off school, take off work," said his grandma Susan Koleta.
Koleta says the issue of daycares closing due to the weather is something that has bothered her since her own children were small. Koleta also wanted to know if parents have already pre-paid for days that the daycare shuts down for weather, what then? We found a number will issue vouchers that parents can use for vacation days, sick days, or in this case, weather days.
But, some daycares do stay open, like Grandma's House in Wauwatosa.
"A large majority of our parents work at the medical college or at Froedtert or Children's, and hospitals don't close so we try to stay open for them," said Christie Dapelo, director.