JEFFERSON — Mt. Jefferson Child Development Center has obtained an emergency license to remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak. Without an emergency license from the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, the center would be required to close its doors on March 31.

The decision to seek the license followed a vote by the Board of Directors for Mt. Jefferson CDC after a recommendation from the staff to remain open during the pandemic.

About two weeks prior to the vote, staff members who were considered “at higher risk” of getting COVID-19 or who had vulnerable health conditions were given an option to take a leave of absence. “The remaining staff members were given the option to take a voluntary layoff,” the center director, Becky Goss, said.

“The center usually houses 100 children. In the past few weeks, daily attendance has dropped to about half. A majority of the children still in attendance come from homes where the parents are employed in essential jobs, such as health care, law enforcement and food service,” Goss said.

While making the decision to remain open, the center’s administration and its Advisory Board conferred with other centers in the county and with the Partnership for Ashe. As a local child advocacy organization, the Partnership helps local child care centers interpret state government guidelines for individual situations. Following these discussions, Mt. Jefferson CDC went forward with the application and was approved for the emergency license.

Currently housed at Family Central, Mt. Jefferson Child Development Center was founded in 1973 as county-owned institution. In 2007, Mt. Jefferson became an independent nonprofit organization after the county government discontinued funding.

“The center will be able to take in as many children as allowed by state guidelines,” Goss said. “The board feels the success of this endeavor can be found in our group of dedicated teachers and support staff at the center. Without their determination to provide a safe and secure environment for our children, this challenge could not be met.”

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