PULASKI, Va. (WFXR)– The Pulaski County YMCA is temporarily suspending all childcare programs due to the drowning of five-year-old Auston Wingo last year.
WFXR News spoke with YMCA officials, who confirmed the information written in the Southwest Times.
Current interim CEO Chris Ayers says the Pulaski County YMCA’s decision to temporarily suspend all childcare programs came after that deadly drowning in December 2021.
Ayers says the Pulaski County YMCA’s childcare license was up for renewal, but the Virginia Department of Education (DOE) denied it, so the facility went through the appeal process.
The DOE reportedly offered the YMCA a few options, so officials chose to withdraw their renewal and reapply as a new childcare center.
Meanwhile, Ayers says the DOE gave the Pulaski County YMCA an exemption to operate legally as unlicensed. This way, parents have more time to locate new daycare options.
However, mother Shannon Hinton, who knows parents who sent their kids to the Pulaski County YMCA, says this decision does not sit right with them.
“A lot of parents bring their kids here. They depend upon childcare here for their children because they work,” said Hinton.
Hinton says this YMCA location is a staple in the Pulaski County community for child care.
“Definitely for Pulaski moms, parents that live here, they come to the Y a lot. I see a lot of kids here,” said Hinton.
According to the Southwest Times, Ayers says that 14 employees are affected by the closure, including multiple parents who are still not able to find child care.
The Pulaski County YMCA’s goal during the suspension is reportedly to renovate the facility — which will cost between $50,000 and $70,000 — and reopen the Tuesday after Labor Day.