Families with children at Valencia KinderCare Learning Center got some bad news last week, and with little explanation. Despite many of the parents being pleased with the teachers and curriculum at KinderCare, the Valencia location will close its doors in two weeks.
A statement issued by KinderCare’s corporate office said: “Our Valencia KinderCare Learning Center will close on Friday, June 9. We know our center is a home away from home for children and families and we’re honored to have served Santa Clarita families throughout the years. While change is never easy, our goal is to make the process as smooth as we possibly can for our families. We have two other KinderCare centers in the area — Canyon Country and Granada Hills — and both of those centers have openings for Valencia children.”
The Canyon Country KinderCare director, Iliana Faraldo, said she is prepared to accept new families into her program. When asked why Valencia’s facility is closing, Faraldo said, “I wouldn’t be able to give you specific information on why that center would be closing.”
Staff members at KinderCare’s headquarters in Portland, Ore. were similarly quiet about the situation. According to the communications department at headquarters, several of their centers are closing in a process they referred to as “consolidation.”
Rachel McCarthy, a mother of two children at Valencia KinderCare, said she was shocked at the news.
“The staff doesn’t have the details either. They walked in the day after Mother’s Day and were told. They were getting prepared to kick off summer,” McCarthy said. “Multiple families don’t want this school to close. … We want to fight for it.”
Valencia KinderCare Director Jeni Bromberek would not confirm the date that she and her staff learned their location was closing, but did confirm it was recently. Some of the 17 teachers leaving the Valencia Center will transfer to the Canyon Country location, she said. There are 92 children in the program in Valencia, which Bromberek confirmed was not the maximum capacity. Those families are searching for new sources of care for their kids.
“Our parents are amazing,” Bromberek said. “These parents are so supportive of our staff, and sadness is generally what they’ve been experiencing. But overall, they’ve been incredible.”
Bromberek, who lives in Crescenta Valley, has been employed by KinderCare for just five months and hopes to stay with the company. “My plans are still up in the air,” she said. “I’ve been in education for 25 years. It’s my passion. … I just have to figure out my options.”
McCarthy said that several of the parents had called both district and corporate offices, but couldn’t get an explanation.
“If there’s an issue, how can we fix this?” she asked.
There are 1,370 KinderCare Learning Centers across the country, and almost every one of them are accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC. According to KinderCare spokesperson Zibby Pillote, fewer than 10 percent of other childcare centers are accredited. The KinderCare Learning Centers have a proprietary curriculum for children as young as 6 weeks old to 12 years old. For the older students, the program offers care before and after school.
McCarthy gives KinderCare glowing reviews. Before she brought her kids to the Valencia center, her 4-year-old son was showing signs of being on the autism spectrum.
“Now my son comes home every day asking about his teacher. He started using full sentences. He went from having limited speech to this,” she explained. “This particular school has the greatest teachers.”
After 12 weeks at the school, McCarthy could remove her son from the Individualized Education Program, or IEP, at school, because he no longer needed the added assistance. KinderCare’s curriculum was working, which is why she’s so perplexed at the news.
“You made magic now, you’ve got the right staffing. This is where you want your kids to go,” McCarthy said. “I actually changed my job to make sure I could keep my kids in this school.”
Pillote, who is a communications associate in the KinderCare corporate office, was unable to shed light on the reason for closing the doors in Valencia, but underscored the message of the press statement released by her office.
“We’re working with each family to help them find the best solution for their child, regardless of whether that’s at a KinderCare center or another provider,” Pillote said. “Our Canyon Country KinderCare is accepting new families and we have already told families at the Valencia center that there’s availability for them there. We also have a center in Granada Hills that we’re directing them to.”
For parents who were pleased with the whole package in Valencia, it’s little consolation.
“Coming here and finding this community — I want to keep my kids here and keep them thriving,” McCarthy said. “It’s impacted my family greatly.”