Nonprofit day care in Greenport faces hard times, may close

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Two children read magazines at the Perry day care center Friday.

Citing ongoing financial woes, Greenport’s Perry Day Care Center may soon close its doors for good, according to director Joan Marie Cortez.

The center has enough money to cover operational costs for the next three to six months, she said, but its future beyond that is uncertain.

“Many local working parents and grandparents will find it very difficult to work if the center is forced to shut its doors,” Ms. Cortez said. “The center’s in a precarious financial situation. It’s getting scary.”

The nonprofit day care facility, which has served hundreds of Southold and Shelter Island children since it opened in 1992, is New York State-licensed and run by a volunteer board of directors. Its $180,000 annual budget covers the cost of supplies, food, building maintenance and salaries for five employees, all of whom hold certifications in child development.

The day care center’s financial status took a turn for the worse in 2010, when the state slashed its funding by roughly $10,000 a month, according to Ms. Cortez. By laying off staff, raising the price of programs and fundraising, the center has since managed to stay afloat.

With donations trailing off, however, the day care’s finances reached crisis level in November 2012, prompting the board of directors to meet with local politicians, including Greenport Mayor David Nyce, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and representatives from the office of state Senator Ken La Valle (R-Port Jefferson) seeking assistance in trying to secure additional funding.

While Southold Town was able to obtain a $5,000 annual grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, most local municipalities were unable to help due to their own cutbacks, Ms. Cortez said.

Recently, the center applied for grants from private Long Island-based foundations, but Ms. Cortez said it needs the community’s help to stay in business.

“We have been very reliant upon the support of our local community,” she said. “Now more than ever we are counting on their compassion and generosity.”

The day care offers programs for preschoolers, toddlers and families. Each day, children participate in a variety of activities, ranging from music, art and story time to a host of age-appropriate and educational games. They are also served two meals day.

Contributions may be made to Perry Day Care Center, 612 Third St., Greenport, NY 11944 or online via PayPal at perrydaycare.org.

cmurray@timesreview.com

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