Facilities: FAQ’s on Relocation

Link to draft plans for public discussion on January 8th: 

Informational Meeting Invitation with Draft Plans


FAQ’s on Relocation

1. Who is HP Community?

2. Do we need additional daycare facilities in Highland Park?

3. How many students are currently enrolled at HP Community?

4. What programs does HP Community offer?

5. Why is HP Community relocating?

6. What locations were considered for the HP Community relocation?

7. What locations are currently being considered?

8. What is HP Community proposing to build?

9. If Kennedy Park is selected, what will happen to the existing Kennedy Park?

10. If West Ridge is selected, what will happen to the existing park and building?

11. How many students does HP Community anticipate serving at a new location?

12. What effect will the new HP Community location have on traffic?

13. What programs does HP Community provide that aren’t currently provided elsewhere in Highland Park or Highwood?

14. If HP Community doesn’t find a new home, would the Little Giants program at Highland Park High School have to be shut down?


Who is HP Community?

For 67 years, Highland Park Community Nursery School & Day Care Center (HP Community) has been providing quality, licensed, affordable, early care and education for children whose parents live and/or work in the Highland Park and Highwood area or who are attending training to improve their economic situations. HP Community originally only served children of working parents, but because of the success of the program, non-working parents requested a ½ day nursery school program be added to the center’s offerings. Currently, we have multiple programs designed to meet the various needs of the families with young children who make up our community. We provide programs on a first come, first served basis with priority given to single parents and children/families that are referred to us by other agencies.

Over the past 67 years, HP Community has adjusted its programs to best meet the needs of the community. We have added programs, discontinued programs, and offered pilot programs meeting different needs. Our upcoming relocation has once again offered HP Community an opportunity to serve the community by meeting an unmet need. We will be relocating our current programs and adding services that currently are not fully met in our community.

Do we need additional daycare facilities in Highland Park?

We are not new, we’ve been providing services here in Highland Park for 67 years. We are simply relocating within Highland Park. While we are not adding additional daycare competition, there remains a significant need for childcare options in our area.

Based on IECAM maps, Ounce of Prevention information, DCFS resources and HP Community’s own waiting lists data, it was determined that there was is a significant need for services for children 0 to 3 years of age, especially for low to moderate income families. We determined that no center-based infant care was available in Highland Park even though 15% of families with children under the age of one would prefer center-based care, and 21% with children between the age of 1 and 2 years of age would prefer center-based care. Based on census data this would indicate that as many as 500 children ages 2 and under could benefit from HP Community offering center-based care. Within Highland Park there is one program (Lutz Family Center) that offers care for toddlers (12 slots), and eight licensed in-home providers who care for infants (18 slots). While there are more offerings for children 2 years old, there still are only 74 slots dispersed across 5 licensed centers (including HP Community). All totaled, 104 slots of care are available for children ages 2 and under.

How many students are currently enrolled at HP Community?

Currently, 93 students are enrolled at HP Community at our current location in the Karger Center, 1850 Green bay Road. This number is slightly down from previous years as School District 112 started offering full-day kindergarten, thus ending the need for ½ day wrap around kindergarten care at HP Community. We are projected to have 87 licensed enrollment slots at our new location.

What programs does HP Community offer?

With the addition of full-day kindergarten, we are planning some programming changes at our new location:

● Two-Year-Old Classrooms (x2) – Research-based early education is offered to children who turn 2 by September 1st. Children may attend the program on a full time, part time, or partial day basis. Class size is limited to 15 children with 3 teachers, providing the individualized attention necessary to promote positive social interactions and overall developmental growth. Since opening our first 2-year-old classroom in 2016, HP Community has had a waitlist of enough children to operate an additional classroom if we had had the space to provide the care. At our new location we will be able to add that second classroom.

● 3-and 4 Year Old Classrooms / Preschool for All (PFA) Classrooms (x2) – Illinois State Board of Education approved, research-based early education is offered five days a week with wrap around childcare services for three- and four-year-old children of working or student parents in our community. For this program, all PFA daycare children are required to be enrolled full time. Children may attend part time in the summer when Preschool for All is not in session. Each class consists of 20 children and three teachers. All children must meet PFA participation guidelines. In addition to focusing on the qualifying at-risk academic skills, social interactions, behaviors and skills are a focus of our emergent curriculum based on the Reggio Emelia approach to early learning.

● Infant/Toddler Classroom (x1) Coming in January 2020 – Research-based developmental activities and parent education will be offered to families with children 6 months to 24 months. Children may attend the program on a full time, part time, or partial day basis. Class size is limited to 10 children with 4 teachers, providing the individualized attention necessary to meet each child’s individual needs, promote positive social interactions, and overall developmental growth.

All classes are taught by certified teachers that not only provide affordable, safe, nurturing care, but also enriching educational activities that meet Illinois Early Learning Standards that prepare children with the pre-academic skills necessary for success in school. Screenings include vision, hearing, dental and developmental. Developmental screening results are used to plan daily activities that incorporate those learning areas that are in need of improvement into the lesson plans. Each child’s progress is monitored and recorded using anecdotal notes, work samples and progress reports through individualized learning portfolios. This information is shared with parents during conferences and consultations that occur at least quarterly and as requested by parents and staff. Additionally, HP Community collaborates with School District 112 and private agencies that provide early interventions and evaluations for children who need these types of support services.

Why is HP Community relocating?

The City of Highland Park publicly announced its decision to place the Karger Center on the market for sale for potential redevelopment in May, 2017. This decision was made in light of a 2014 comprehensive assessment of City owned real estate which identified the Property as rapidly aging with escalating operating costs, which were among key factors in the City’s decision. We’re thankful to have resided in this City owned facility for the past five decades, but are very excited about the advantages that a new facility will bring to our children, staff, and programing. While we had been working with the Community Family Center (CFC), a non-profit organization that was raising funds to build a new human services facility for Highland Park residents, the CFC was unable to bring the project to fruition. Therefore, HP Community had to move forward on its own to find a new location.

What locations were considered for the HP Community relocation?

As soon as we were notified the City was starting to consider the sale of the Karger Center, an extensive search was conducted to look for a new home. There are many criteria that go into the consideration of any option including (but not limited to): early childhood licensing requirements; early childhood care fire code; available lease term; location; effect on programming; and cost. Below we have provided an exemplary (although not exhaustive) list of sites that we considered. This list is intended to demonstrate the types of locations considered and the challenges we faced throughout the process. Many additional sites were considered beyond what is on this list.

  • Private Commercial Space and Land:
    • Private Sale Vacant Land – There are a number of sites we looked at but they were ruled out due to financial constraints. The cost of land in the area we serve is much higher than our program income would be able to support. While there are grant and loan programs available for organizations like HP Community, they would not support both the purchase of land and development of a new facility on that land.
    • 3500 Western – The owner was willing to work with us to renovate this existing building, but the site would not pass licensing or the fire code for young children. The early childhood fire code is quite stringent when starting operation in a new location. Many existing programs (including HP Community at the Karger Center) are grandfathered in but this would not allow a new program to open in the same location in the future.
    • New Development at Karger Site – HP Community had been included in one of the proposals presented to the City for the redevelopment of the Karger Center site. We would have collaborated with a senior living facility to provide intergenerational care – something HP Community has been interested in for quite some time as so many of our children do not have grandparents in the area. Ultimately, this was not the proposal that was chosen by the City.
  • Community Spaces:
    • James Church Education Center – We inquired about this space but it was not offered.
    • Trinity Episcopal Church – We visited the site but the rooms were too small and would be difficult to license due to fire safety guidelines.
    • Immaculate Conception Educational Center – HP Community visited IC several times. IC Educational Center was one of the first locations that was considered when looking for an alternate for the CFC (Community Family Center). After the CFC put their plans on hold, HP Community and Tri-Con visited the site and finally HP Community investigated the site more thoroughly for our individual relocation. The Arch Diocese was interested in a short-term lease – 3 to 5 years. This would not work for the project as the length of the lease made the retrofits and renovations that were needed to be in compliance with DCFS and the State Fire Code cost prohibitive, in addition to the rent amount required.
  • Public Entity Buildings and Land
    • Park District of Highland Park – West Ridge Center Building – We met with the Park District of Highland Park. We inquired about West Ridge Center classrooms, but we were informed that all rooms at West Ridge are fully utilized.
    • Park District of Highland Park – Undeveloped parcels of land – HP Community approached the Park District about the possibility of the Park District donating unused, smaller parcels of park district land. Some of these spaces were identified as part of the Park District’s Green Print Plan. However, it was determined that the parcels were too small to meet our needs.
    • School District 112 – Lincoln School – When the School District announced they may be closing schools, we toured some of the schools – Lincoln School specifically. Utilizing Lincoln School would require that we segment and secure the portion of the school we would use, and perform extensive retrofits and renovations to meet all of our licensing requirements, quality programming requirements, and early childhood fire code. We assessed this through preliminary studies and site visits, and it was concluded that the cost to bring it up to code was too great.
    • City of Highland Park – Highland Park Country Club – HP Community met with the City of Highland Park to explore possible space at the Country Club. The existing facility would not be able to be renovated to meet our licensing requirements and may be effected by the planning relocation of the Senior Center to the Country Club. Additional land at the site was determined to by unfeasible as most of the site is in a flood way and there are restricted covenants at the property.

What locations are currently being considered?

Recently, HP Community was asked to consider a second potential location for our new facility. We are working diligently to assess this new option, but no decision has been made one way or the other. We will continue to update this page as this process continues and we learn more.

  • School District 112 – Kennedy Park Land The northern half of the field at Kennedy Park is owned by the School District and has the space needed to build a new facility for HP Community. After discussion with and consideration by the School District Board, HP Community was extended a lease for the school owned portion of Kennedy Park in December (2018). HP Community has conducted extensive discovery (existing conditions of topography, traffic, utility location, etc.) and site planning (site layout, building design and renderings, preliminary engineering, light study, landscape plan, etc.) for this location. The results of that planning were presented and discussed at a public meeting on January 8th, 2019.
  • School District 112 – West Ridge Center Land A meeting was held between representatives of the City of Highland Park, Park District, School District 112, and HP Community on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 to discuss the possibility of HP Community changing its proposed location from Kennedy Park to a portion of West Ridge Park (northwest corner). Officials from School District 112 are open to bringing the matter before the Board of Education for discussion with a caveat that vehicular ingress and egress to a newly constructed school be from Ridge Road instead of Red Oak Lane due to traffic volumes related to student drop off and pick up at the schools along Red Oak Lane. All the interested parties are exploring the feasibility of this location and complying with the access restriction.

This new site consideration will be discussed at the January 15, 2019 School District 112 Board of Education meeting which starts at 7:00 PM at the Green Bay Early Childhood Center (1936 Green Bay Road). Further discussions are scheduled at the Park District of Highland Park Board Meeting on January 22, 2019 which starts at 6:00 PM at West Ridge Center (636 Ridge Road). Additionally, HP Community will coordinate a soon-to-be scheduled neighborhood meeting.

What is HP Community proposing to build?

HP Community is proposing an approximately 11,000 square foot building that would consist of 5 classrooms, a gross motor room, art studio, kitchenette, teacher lounge, and reception area. The site would include a fenced outdoor play area with natural elements, a parking lot, and an area for storm water management. We are utilizing modular construction (prefabrication) in order to quickly construct our building once we complete the City planning and review process, receive a special use permit, and receive construction permits. The building will look and function like a normally constructed building, but a significant amount of work is done off-site and then delivered and installed on-site. This will both help us meet our timeline to move and minimize construction disruption to neighbors.

If Kennedy Park is selected, what will happen to the existing Kennedy Park?

The south end of the field and playground immediately behind the Lutz Family Center which are owned by the Park District will remain park land totaling more than 6 acres. HP Community would be located on the north end of the field on land owned by School District 112. HP Community would be adding a fenced, tot-lot playground and additional natural play spaces that will be available for public use outside of our operating hours (public use in the evenings, on weekends, and holidays). While the soccer field will be impacted, HP Community is aiming for a landscaping and site plan that will protect the natural, open space of Kennedy Park as much as possible.

If West Ridge is selected, what will happen to the existing park and building?

The West Ridge Center Building and the bulk of West Ridge Park (over 9 acres) would not be impacted. The northwest corner of the property is a field used for more limited Park District programming. The Park District is working to identify other park sites where these programs could be relocated. Similar to Kennedy Park, HP Community would be adding a fenced, tot-lot playground that will be available for public use outside of our operating hours (public use in the evenings, on weekends, and holidays). Minimizing impact on neighbors, current park land, and current programming is a priority as we assess the potential of this site.

How many students does HP Community anticipate serving at a new location?

Next year we anticipate having 87 slots for care. Some of these slots will be shared by part-time attending children so the number could be slightly higher. In our experience we have found that younger children tend to go to childcare on a part-time basis as parents may adjust their work schedules to be at home to keep costs down or the child may spend one or two days a week with a grandparent, etc.

What effect will the new HP Community location have on traffic?

The effect on traffic and parking requirements are a major aspect of the City plan and review process. Our application to the City for a particular site will include a traffic study that looks at existing conditions (based on traffic counts), HP Community’s effect on that traffic, parking needs, and future projections of traffic based on growth models for the area. This study is assessed and considered by the City Plan and Review Commission.

What programs does HP Community provide that aren’t currently provided elsewhere in Highland Park or Highwood?

  • HP Community is an ExceleRate IL Gold Circle of Quality program – only D112’s Green Bay School has this quality rating in Highland Park.
  • Preschool for All Program – no other program is funded for PFA in Highland Park.
  • Two-Year-Old Programs (CCAP Contracted Care) – programming is quite limited for this age group. According to DCFS, there are 5 centers offering a total of 74 slots, but HP Community is the only one with state CCAP contracts to provide care for low to moderate income families. For the past 2 years we have had a waitlist of 16 – 18 children indicating that there is a need for more 2-year-old care.
  • Toddler Program – 1 center offers 12 slots of care. HP Community will utilize our CCAP contract to offer additional care for children from low to moderate income families. This program will be added once the center is open so we can become licensed. Eventually this class will switch to infant care and the toddler program will also accommodate young 2-year olds. The grouping will be based on developmental skills as well as age.
  • Infant Program – Currently there are no center-based infant care programs in Highland Park. Infant care (6 months – 15 months) will not be offered immediately as the center must be up and running in order to reissue our license to include this age group. We anticipate providing care for this group as we transform our second 2-year-old class to serve toddlers and younger 2’s thus allowing us to serve non-mobile infants in a safe environment that does not include children who are walking. This adds safety and a greater focus on the developmental needs specific to these children. When working with younger children it is important to consider their developmental age over their physical age.

If HP Community doesn’t find a new home, would the Little Giants program at Highland Park High School have to be shut down?

Little Giants would not necessarily have to shut down, but it is likely that HP Community would not operate it. The program struggles to break even as HP Community must maintain our salary scale, benefits and the standard of care as indicated with our Gold Circle of Quality rating. It is too difficult to cover expenses of maintaining this level of service with just one classroom. We would provide adequate notice to School District 113, and work with them to find a new organization to take over operations.

Little Giants current enrollment is 16 children, ages 2 to 5. Several high school students volunteer at Little Giants on a regular basis. In the past students have come over from the child development class to spend time in our classroom during their lunch, free periods before/after school, etc. Little Giants collaborates with specific teachers to provide student-child interactions.

Copyright 2015. Highland Park Community