Daycare closure leaves Crawfordsville parents in crisis

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Dozens of Crawfordsville families are searching for new arrangements for their children after a surprise announcement that their church is shutting down its child care.

A combination of criminal charges and money troubles forced the quick action at the Guiding Light Child Care Ministries.

"When they decided May 30 was the closing date, it was, 'Uh, okay, scramble'," said parent Nicole Mitchell.

First, they learned the church daycare's former director, Julie Randles, was arrested for allegedly stealing up to $15,000 of their money from the facility.

"Unfortunately, some people have to ruin it for everybody else," said parent Charles Higgins.

Then, the other shoe dropped.

"What do you do now?" Eyewitness News asked another parent, Steve Tomamichel.

"Pray," he replied. "It's the largest daycare in town. We've got 110 kids. They're gonna shut the door May 30."

We couldn't reach the church for comment. Parents said the church cited business and other factors in shutting down the daycare.

"We really like the daycare," said mother Nikki Riggs. "I live in the apartments across the street, so it was really close to home."

The city school bus brings her child from kindergarten right to the daycare center's aftercare, which is easy for Riggs. But now, she says," I have a 14-year-old at home who is going to try to watch her this summer. But I don't know about the school year."

"We just need something for one more year, but we're struggling. There's only so many places in town to go," another mom said.

"Our two boys are both twelfth on every waiting list to get in," said Tomamichel.

Late Monday, another mother, Melanie Sperry, told Eyewitness News parents are working with the church to extend the deadline until August and help transfer the school staff to a new building - a new daycare the parents would start.

But they need the extension until August.

"There's nothing there, nothing at all. A waiting list," said Mitchell. "We need something now. We've got jobs."