Education

Parents React to Unexpected Closing of St. Barnabas KinderCare in Livingston

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LIVINGSTON, NJ - Livingston KinderCare Learning Center, located on the St. Barnabas Hospital Campus, unexpectedly closed its doors on Dec. 16, leaving many parents upset and confused as to why it closed its doors so abruptly, and scrambling to find alternative childcare.

Initially, according to parents, they were informed that this was because the center's lease had expired. However, when asked for further details, parents said they felt as if the administration was not providing enough information.

Now, many parents are left with the dilemma of finding alternative arrangements for their children while they are at work.

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Maggie Joseph, the mother of a 3-year-old KinderCare attendee, wrote to TAPinto Livingston to express her frustration and concerns.

“On October 26th, 2016, parents were notified that the school was closing as of December 16th because its lease was not being renewed by St. Barnabas Hospital,” said Joseph. “KinderCare offered the children an opportunity to transfer to other KinderCare centers in neighboring towns where they would also be moving most, if not all, of the teachers.”

According to Joseph, when parents asked for more information regarding the lease, they were informed that the directors had fought with St. Barnabas but could not resolve the problem. Many parents continued to question the directors for more detailed information, she said.

“I and several of the other parents called the next day to get more information because KinderCare’s initial explanation just wasn’t sitting right with us,” she wrote. “How could they only find out eight weeks before closing that their lease was not going to be renewed?”

As more parents became involved, it was discovered that one of the directors had been relocated to a new venue, where the students were offered to re-enroll. Some parents also contacted KinderCare Corporate headquarters, which informed them that any issue involving lease agreements would be handled at the corporate level.

However, according to Joseph, the district manager had no knowledge of any lease issue at this location. She also said one parent went as far as to contact the hospital to find out why the lease was not being renewed and was informed that the preschool was notified two years ago that their lease would be ending in 2017.

KinderCare Communications Supervisor Colleen Moran spoke with the school’s real estate department as well as District Manager Ned Cox.

“We leased the Livingston center from St. Barnabas Medical Center,” she said. “Our real estate team tried to renew our lease but, unfortunately, we weren't able to come to an agreement that worked for both St. Barnabas and KinderCare.”

Moran said that once the department realized it would not be able to extend its lease, the Livingston leadership immediately shifted focus to finding a closure date during a natural transition time for parents and children—in this case, winter break— so that they would have time to comfortably transition to a new center.

“We worked with families one on one to find the best solution for them, including offering them places at two of our nearby centers,” she said. “More than half of our families chose to transfer to one of those two centers.”

Moran added that although “change is never easy,” KinderCare’s goal is to make the process as smooth as possible for local families and to help them find a new center for their children.

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