BRADENTON -- A local church is seeking final approval from city officials to open a day care center in downtown Bradenton this fall.
First Baptist Church of Bradenton is going before the city council in a public hearing Wednesday morning to get approval for a special use permit amendment that will enable the church to open the doors to its own day care.
"We are hoping to be up and running this fall," Children's Ministry Director Peter Rodewald said.
The church operates a day care Sunday mornings during services, caring for a maximum of 16 children. The amendment would allow the church to care for a maximum of 55 children.
"It's been something that we always wanted to do, and we've been just waiting for the right time," Rodewald said.
Recently, residents have reached out to the church inquiring about a day care, making the church decide enough of a need was there to move forward with plans.
According to Rodewald, while the median age of the congregation is between the mid-50s and the mid-60s, the need for the day care has still grown.
"We do have young families. We've been having a lot that have been coming and joining our church lately," Rodewald said.
The day care will operate out of the children and youth building that is used only on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings for Sunday school and day care.
Since no changes will be made to the structure, classrooms will be small.
"Our ratio of teacher to children will be very low," Rodewald said.
The ratio he estimates will be six or seven children per teacher.
First Baptist has not decided on pricing yet for the proposed facility, but Rodewald is looking at other local day cares.
"We will have prices that I feel will be competitive with other day cares," Rodewald said.
Families will not need to be members of the church to enroll their children in the program, which plans to include "character education" as part of the state-mandated curriculum.
"Our goal is we want to do this as an outreach to the community," Rodewald said. "We will be open to anyone and everyone."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.