MILWAUKEE, Wisc., (SPECTRUM NEWS) — As working parents struggle to find open daycares during the pandemic, a long time Milwaukee childcare provider has found a safe way to keep her doors open while keeping her kids safe.
For 32 years, Annette Wilburn has run Christian Love Child Care on Milwaukee’s North Side.
“I’m on my second generation of the parents, who I had when they are little,” says Wilburn.
Thanks to Wilburn, or “Miss Annette” as the kids call her, parents can start their day knowing their kids – their pride and joy- are in loving hands
“I never had to close; I actually lost kids. I have always had eight children and when COVID hit I was down to four kids because the parents had to stay at home because they weren’t working,” she says.
“It was a big adjustment as far as having the kids come and making sure that everything was safe,” she says.
Prior to COVID, Wilburn was getting ready to retire and pass on the torch to her niece to run the show, but she knew she couldn’t leave just yet.
“Children need their childcare providers. They need childcare because of the structure, the instruction, the curriculum and the schedules,“ says Kimberly Grant, a grandmother of 2 kids under Wilburn’s care.
In order to keep things on schedule, Wilburn had to revamp how she does daycare. She prepared a comprehensive plan for the parents by combining all the information she received from the DCF and the health department.
No longer can parents bring their kids inside which is hard for many of the parents.
“Now, they ring the doorbell then stand six feet back and then I receive them there. When the parents come back, it’s the same thing. Yet, most of the time if the weather permits we are in the yard, so when they come back they remain outside of the fence and we walk the kids to the gate,” she says.
She even gets kids over five years old to wear a mask.
“My parents have been great because I tell them when you take them out it is going to make a difference (in) how they return to child care. Until this subsides we need to work together so you can go to work and I can take care of your kids,” Wilburn says.
To help with social distancing Wilburn provides each kid with their own carpet square.
What may come as a surprise to many is that Wilburn says the little ones aren’t the hard part, and neither are the parents. The biggest obstacle she has is herself.
“It’s me. I have asthma and wearing the mask all the time flares it up and makes it’s hard to breathe, but I’ve figured out how to manage it.”
Even though it can be hard on her health, wearing a mask keeps the kids safe. That’s what matters most to her.
“So far everything has run smoothly and I have been blessed,” Wilburn says.
Blessed: Just like all the parents who know their kids are in such loving hands.