Fire-Damaged Child Care Center Set to Reopen

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Families counting on a Westport preschool damaged by a church fire last week won’t have to wait much longer, as officials with the school say that they plan on reopening as soon as next week.

The blaze that gutted the Westport Presbyterian Church on December 29th managed to spare much of the Willow Woods Child Center, so while the church could take months to rebuild the daycare expects to reopen on Monday as teachers have been working all week to put their classrooms back in order.

Contractors have already cleaned up much of the smoke and soot damage in the day care.

“Fifteen people, 12-hours a day have gone over everything in this building,” said Willow Woods director Joanne Loftus. “Yesterday they had Q-Tips and toothbrushes.”

Loftus says that many of the classrooms appear empty at the moment, as books and puzzles had to be thrown out. In addition, cribs need new mattresses and a fan is still drying out water-logged carpets.

“I pity the teachers who are in here because they’re going to have to run a classroom without toys,” said Loftus.

Parent Zach Bassin has been helping out with the cleanup effort because he knows that his 2-year-old son Judah is anxious to come back. And he says that parents can only juggle childcare duties for so long.

“Judah really has just been asking about his friends his teachers, he really misses them,” said Bassin. “There’s no 60 daycare openings that I know of, especially in Midtown. It’s amazingly important and I think it’s an anchor for this community around here too.”

On Thursday, a new smoke alarm system was installed in the daycare.

“Being a parent myself and not having daycare it’s unbelievable what you have to go through,” said Michael Daffer of Safe Alarm. “We’ve got to do everything we can to get them back in.”

Loftus says that she wishes that she could reopen on Friday, but says that when she looks inside the scorched church – connected to the daycare by a hallway – she’s reminded that the fire could have been a lot worse.

“There’s lifetimes worth of stuff and it will never be the same,” said Loftus.

If you would like to help out the Willow Woods Child Development Center with donations of books or toys, click here.

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