By David Slone
WARSAW — With the recent installation of new playground equipment for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, Little Steps Daycare at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1720 E. Center St., Warsaw, has completed its playground equipment overhaul.
Wednesday, the new equipment was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.
In May 2022, Little Steps and the Chamber had a ribbon-cutting for the new playground for 1- and 2-year-olds that the state grant Build Learn Grow helped fund.
Tami Beery, Little Steps director, said the equipment for the 3- to 5-year-olds was ordered at the same time as the 1- to 2-year-olds equipment but it came about nine months late.
“This is it,” she said. “We’ve already installed the 1’s and 2’s playground so they have theirs, individual playgrounds, and then the 3’s, 4’s and 5’s share a playground. It’s just age appropriate, that’s really what it is.”
She said the 2-year-olds probably could play on the bigger kids’ playground, but the 1-year-olds absolutely can not. There’s no swings on the equipment, but there’s slides and other things for the children to climb on. There’s also other individual toys for the 3- to 5-year-olds to play on.
Fouce Landscaping installed both playgrounds for Little Steps.
“They have definitely become our go-to person for landscaping and anything outside. That was definitely the best money we’ve ever spent,” Beery said. “At first, we were going to have volunteers do it with the church, and then we realized, no, it’s not wise. So we contacted him and he was like, ‘yeah.’”
She said Fouce did the assembly and landscaping whenever the weather cooperated. They were very “cordial” and worked around the kids, who Beery said were very fascinated with the workers and what they were doing. The 3- to 5-year-olds playground was completed around the middle of March.
DJ Fouce, owner of Fouce Landscaping, said, “It took us approximately seven days to build the playground, over the course of a month due to the weather and stuff. The church, they were clients of ours from last year, and they asked us to do the playground for them and we were happy to come out and help them.”
He said it was a fun project to train all his new guys on. They had 30 post holes, 10 tons of post hole dirt to haul off and lots of concrete.
On receiving the grant for the playgrounds, Beery said, “For us, it was just an opportunity really. Financially we didn’t need it, we were doing pretty well. We actually did well over Covid, crazily, I don’t even know how it happened, but we did do well. But it really gave us the opportunity to do projects that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. That’s really how it helped us. It was kind of our wish list to do those items anyway, but you just have to do them piecemeal normally, so (the grant) just really opened up things for us.”
Little Steps originally opened in 2010. Beery said they have a “giant” wait list and no openings really, but they might have openings in the fall in the older kids rooms depending on how many go off to kindergarten.
“Our infant room doesn’t have an opening till May of next year. It’s crazy. It’s crazy. There is really, really a need here in Kosciusko County for daycares,” she said.
They are doing a preschool curriculum currently. “We do High Scopes, which most of the newer facilities that have opened up recently are doing. I think the Y does High Scopes, too. LaunchPad helped us to start that, so that’s kind of a nice opportunity that we’re now a preschool, mostly in our 4’s and 5’s room,” she said.
LaunchPad, a child care and early learning coalition, was established in October 2018,to help solve the child care crisis in the county.