Lakeland’s former Funtime Learning Center, whose owner locked the doors and filed bankruptcy in June, is getting a new life, thanks to the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South. Plans are to open a Child Development Center there.
Registration began on July 10. The center will reopen on Aug. 1.
A Y spokesman explained that the Y heard the community’s voice and recognized the need after Funtime closed. They quickly leased the facility and laid plans to re-open it in a few weeks.
“The Y responds to the community’s needs as it is,” said Brian McLaughlin, vice president of operations of the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South. “… There were 100 families there receiving care.”
The decision was evidently a sound one, judging by the response the Y is hearing. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook,” McLaughlin said. Parents have told Y personnel that their children really want to be back with their friends.
A YMCA press release noted that the newly remodeled YMCA Child Development Center will partner with parents to grow happy children, ages six weeks to five years, with new state-of-the-art classroom furniture, equipment, toys and supplies. Hours will be 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., and enrolled children will be served breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack.
Remodeling will include new floors, new interior and exterior paint, and a complete outfitting by a preschool company.
“Everything in it will be brand new by the time we start up,” McLaughlin said.
He also said, “As we prepare to get the new and improved center opened as quickly as possible, we are working closely with the staff and parents to make this transition smooth, especially for the children.”
The Y has already hired a center director from the YMCA’s staff, he said, and postings for other jobs at the Lakeland center are already up at ymcamemphis.org/jobs.
Jerry Martin, president and CEO of the YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South, said, “At the Y, babies develop trust and security; preschoolers experience early literacy and learn about their world. Most importantly, children learn how to be their best selves. That makes for confident kids today, and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow. We are excited to now serve our community from cradle to career.”
The facility is at 2935 Lakeland Hills Drive (on the corner of U.S. 64 and Lakeland Hills Drive, across from a Sonic).
Under its previous operator, the facility hit the news on June 21 when business owner Lisa Naquin closed its doors without notice after 21 years of operations and filed for a business bankruptcy. Many former employees and parents were caught off guard and were outraged, talking about the impact to them on social media and in the news. Parents who paid for a week’s care that Monday only got their money’s worth for two days. Employees who expected to pick up paychecks that Wednesday got nothing and also lost their jobs without notice.
Naquin said she lost longtime friends among her employees and parents, and she was hurt by their anger.
The YMCA has a special offer for those families who lost out on services they had already purchased at Funtime. McLaughlin said the former Funtime families will get their first week free if they return to the renovated YMCA Child Development Center in Lakeland. Those who can show proof they already enrolled in another facility will be entitled to two weeks’ of free care.
The Y is the nation’s largest provider of child care programs.