published Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Erlanger curbing daycare at VW site

Artist rendering of the planned Erlanger day-care facility at the Volkswagen plant.
Artist rendering of the planned Erlanger day-care facility at the Volkswagen plant.

An Erlanger subsidiary is cutting night and weekend hours at its daycare center near Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant, drawing the ire of some VW employees.

"It's a major problem," said Danielle Bobo, whose child goes to the center and who took part in a parents meeting on Wednesday. She said her child's father, who works at VW, may have to seek another job.

Erlanger Pharmacies told parents this week that it's taking over operation of the center because the business model isn't working financially.

"It was not sustainable for us," said Donna Bourdon, Erlanger Pharmacies president.

She said the center can hold 200 children but only has 88 enrolled.

Kandy Kastle Child Development Center had been operating the facility on Volkswagen Drive that opened last year, but Erlanger will do so in the future, she said.

Bourdon said Erlanger plans to start the changes on Feb. 28. But, after hearing a number of complaints about cutting out nights, she said that "I'll go back to the drawing board...but I don't know if we can do it" and keep service during nights.

Bourdon said VW is aware of the problem. Erlanger spokeswoman Pat St. Charles said VW has been asked to commit a subsidy to the center and the company has agreed, but it hasn't started yet.

VW spokesman Guenther Scherelis had no immediate comment.

Bourdon said plans are to hire as many of the existing staff as possible at the daycare center, which also services other businesses in the area.

She added that if more children are enrolled, Erlanger would consider restarting the hours it plans to cut. Bourdon said rates aren't slated to change.

On a weekday basis, she said, there's still discussion about how late the facility will stay open. While 6:30 p.m. was mentioned, some parents said they don't get off of their shift until 6:30 p.m.

"We don't want to penalize you," Bourdon said.

However, some parents indicated they planned to pull their children out of the center.

Lindsay Scruggs, who works at VW with husband Matt, said they plan to take out their 2 year old because of the cutback in hours.

"We love this," she said, but the new hours won't fit their schedules.

The Erlanger subsidiary built the $2.6 million, 13,400-square-foot daycare facility next to the existing Erlanger at Volkswagen Drive health and wellness site.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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