The latest newsletter from Northwest Center Kids in Queen Anne (2919 First Ave. W.) proclaims, “We are out of crisis. Northwest Center Kids will have a place to go this fall.”
At the start of this year, Northwest Center Kids was informed that its lease through Seattle Public Schools (SPS) would be terminated, leaving it with six months to find a new home for the all-abilities day care. Officials from Northwest Center repeatedly asked SPS for more time because it would need a facility to accommodate all of its students, many of whom have developmental and physical disabilities.
Students will now move to the Salvation Army in Greenwood (9501 Greenwood Ave. N.). The Salvation Army will lease its classroom space to Northwest Center Kids for “up to three years.” This facility previously housed a child-care facility and is ready for move-in, the letter says.
Classes will continue in Queen Anne until Aug. 27, while the new facility is prepared for students. The center will close from Aug. 27 to 29 to move. Classes will start in Greenwood on Sept. 3.
“This solution will untangle the difficult situation in which both Northwest Center and Seattle Public Schools have been snarled,” the newsletter said. “A school that has served children and families for 30 years is here to stay and needs the security of a continuous location, with no further concerns about displacement.”
A ‘win-win’ situation
Northwest Center Kids is slowly moving into the space, though the lease officially begins Sept. 1, according to Lora Marini Baker, director of communications for The Salvation Army’s Northwest Division.
The Greenwood facility is a community center, she said; it has meeting rooms, classrooms, a church and offices. Those spaces host a variety of community services. Until May 2013, a day-care program occupied the classroom spaces; the rooms have been empty since it closed.
The property director for The Salvation Army’s Northwest Division reached out to Northwest Center Kids after hearing about its predicament on the radio, Marini Baker said.
The three-year lease restriction was a request from Northwest Center Kids, Marini Baker said.
“We’re very excited to have them,” she said. “That part has been empty for a year, so to have another nonprofit organization be able to use the space is a perfect solution for us. Northwest Center has a new space; we have a new renter — it’s a win-win.”
The Greenwood facility offers amenities like a fenced-in, outdoor play area and small garden, an indoor play area for days with bad weather, parks nearby, classrooms, a kitchen, break room and offices.
There are seven classrooms, which were recently renovated, the newsletter said. All of the classrooms are similar in size to the rooms at the Queen Anne facility, and there will be room for all of the program’s current students.
The Greenwood facility is smaller than the current building in Queen Anne.
“We can maintain the quality and integrity of our programs in Greenwood,” the newsletter said.
All Northwest Center Kids staff will move to the Greenwood facility, except the Early Intervention professionals, who will work remotely but closely with the facility, the newsletter said.
The faculty is still looking for a permanent home to move into once the three-year lease is up.
‘Situation was not ideal’
SPS Capital and Facilities spokesperson Tom Redman said the district offered Northwest Center Kids multiple interim sites, including the Van Asselt Elementary School property on Beacon Hill, and had a few meetings.
Extending the timeframe had been part of the conversation in those meetings, Redman said; there isn’t an official extension to Sept. 1, but SPS is able to extend the deadline until then. SPS has waited to officially extend the deadline until it could get concrete moving information from Northwest Center Kids.
The locations Northwest Center Kids was looking at were not shared with SPS, Redman said in an email.
The timeline for Cascade Parent Partnership — the Queen Anne building’s new occupants — remains unchanged, Redman said; the group will move into the building by February 2015.
“We know that this situation was not ideal, but we are pleased that Northwest Center Kids was able to find a location and that we are maintaining our timeline to move Cascade Parent Partnership to North Queen Anne on time,” Redman said.
The search for Northwest Center Kids’ new home will prompt “re-energized emphasis on fundraising, collaboration with funders and community financial support…unprecedented in our history and is essential to securing a home of our own,” according to the newsletter.
Northwest Center gets its funding from clothing donations, local businesses who use its services and government contracts.
“The permanent solution for Northwest Center Kids will need a new kind of support to get there,” the newsletter said.
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