Home / News / LocalRSS Feed
JCC, JFS to combine early childhood programs, agencies to work together
February 6th, 2004
To provide the best early childhood education for the communitys preschoolers is the motivation behind the merging of two long-standing programs the JCC Early Childhood Program operated by the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and the JFS Child Development Center, a program of Jewish Family Services.
The two constituent agencies of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation recently approved the merger based on the recommendation of MJFs Agency Relations Committee, which is chaired by Marci Taxman.
According to Taxman, This has been a priority for the federation for some time, and we are so pleased that the two agencies came together to develop a mutually acceptable proposal. I view this as a very positive step for the community.
She added, In having one program, we can avoid a duplication of services. We expect over time that there will be some administrative savings. And, I believe that by combining the programs, they will no longer compete for the best teachers or for students.
Brad Backer, a member of the committee who was co-chair with Taxman during the merger process, said, There is no lack of day care in Milwaukee, so the federation has been seeking a way to provide better services with a potential savings to the community.
We hope to end up with a stronger program by merging the best of the JFS and JCC models.
Plans are to complete the acquisition by June 30, a date Taxman said was purposely selected to provide a transition for the children over the summer, when many go to day camps or other programs.
Serving special needs
Elliot Lubar, JFS executive vice president, told The Chronicle, There is some sadness after operating the program for 26 years, especially because it will not retain its identity. However, we determined that it is in the best interest of the community to reassess our priorities in maintaining the program because of the increasing need to subsidize it through dollars contributed directly to the agency.
On a positive note, the program portion of the money that was previously allocated to the childhood center was reallocated to the Exceptional Needs Program, which merged with Keshet to allow us to expand and increase services to this important client population.
The agency relations committee, Taxman explained, has long thought that the Keshet exceptional needs program has been worthy of funding. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any available dollars to support the program. So, that the federation was able to reallocate funds JFS has used for early childhood programming to exceptional needs is of great benefit to the agency.
Taxman further added that the federation is transferring the rooms and occupancy portion of JFS Child Development Center allocation to the JCC, and that JFS will also be closing its day care program in its downtown location.
The merger, she concluded, is consistent with both JFS mission and the JCCs, which is to provide services to everyone in the community.
There has been an ongoing dialogue between the two agencies for some time, said Jay Roth, JCC executive vice president. I think our educational philosophies are consistent, so it makes sense to combine the programs. While maintaining the high quality of the programs, I think there will be some economies of scale. Most important, we will preserve the continuity of both programs for the children and their families.
Like Taxman, Roth said he is pleased with how the two agencies worked together with the support of the federation. And, he added, he is confident the JCC will handle the transition appropriately.
Previously, we successfully merged Rainbow Day Camp with our program in Fredonia, so I think we will be sensitive to the JFS family in this case. We dont want them to feel any sense of loss.
Lubar noted that the merger is a logical move since the programs basically serve the same kinds of families. Also, it has become almost impossible to charge the full cost of day care while maintaining our low teacher-to-student ratio.
Lubar and Roth will meet Feb. 17 to formally begin the transition of acquisition.
Lubar said, We dont know how many children will enroll in the program next year, and that affects the size of the staff, number of classrooms and what the rent will be.
Our goal for our JFS families is to have the least possible disruption of service.