Blaming the teacher shortage, Myah’s Just 4 Kids closes day care in Downtown Peoria

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PEORIA – School districts are not the only ones struggling with the teacher shortage. 

Myah’s Just 4 Kids Learning Center in the CityLink bus terminal has closed because it can’t find enough workers, said business founder Lynne Costic.  

“There is a teacher shortage globally, and the need for early childhood education is so very important,” she said. “It’s so important that these children get the fundamental beginning education that they need, and it needs to start in early childhood, prior to them going to kindergarten. So when we don’t have that, when we aren’t able to supply that service to our most vulnerable population, which is zero to 5, it really has a major impact on their learning capabilities.” 

Costic left a job in marketing in 1999 to start a day care when she had concerns about her grandson’s day care center. The home-based business grew through word of mouth, and Costic moved it into a storefront at the corner of Western Avenue and Butler Street in 2002.  

Lynne Costic, the retired owner of Myah's Just 4 Kids Learning Center, stands outside of the Downtown Peoria location of her business on Dec. 30, 2021. The daycare, which opened in 2007, is closing down due to a shortage of teachers. The second Myah's Learning Center located on Knoxville Avenue will remain open.

“It was nothing to look at, but inside it was homey, and we had all of the things that we needed in order to teach our children,” Costic said. “But the most important things that we needed in order to teach our children was staff that had passion for working with children and wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.” 

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In 2007, Costic learned the day care space formerly used by the YMCA in the CityLink bus terminal in Downtown Peoria was available, creating the perfect opportunity to expand further. 

“At our peak, we had 96 children there,” Costic said. 

A day care was incorporated into the bus terminal when it was built as a convenience for working families, and it was very popular, she said. But the pandemic changed everything. 

“After the shutdown, we had teachers that did not come back,” Costic said. 

About a quarter of the staff didn’t return, and more staff could not be found to replace them, said Costic. The lack of teachers was eased by the fact that a number of children also did not return. 

Lynne Costic holds the door as Dave and Dylan Daymude carry out furniture from the Downtown Peoria location of Myah's Just 4 Kids Learning Center on Dec. 30, 2021. The daycare, which opened in 2007, is closing due to a shortage of teachers. Costic said the extra furniture and supplies are being put into storage or moved to the second Myah's Learning Center on Knoxville Avenue.

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“We had a number of parents say, ‘I’m not comfortable sending my child to day care, they will stay with grandma,’” Costic said. 

With declining enrollment, it didn’t make sense to keep the large day care at the CityLink bus terminal open. Myah’s also has a location on Knoxville Avenue, which opened in 2016. 

“It’s at capacity, and I think there are 76 (children) there," Costic said. 

As many children as possible were moved to the Knoxville location. Parents were given several months’ notice so they could find other places to take their children, Costic said. 

Bennita Boyd clears off shelves of old activity and learning books inside of Myah's Just 4 Kids Learning Center on Dec. 30, 2021.

Last week, workers were onsite at CityLink to move equipment out. Costic, who announced her retirement in mid-December, was on hand to help. 

“I sold my shares to my son and daughter-in-law,” Costic said. “My daughter-in-law operated the CityLink location for me for 12 years. She’s taking over now.” 

CityLink is still looking for a tenant for the center, said ShamRA Robinson-Maclin, assistant director of operations for the transit system. Another day care would be great, but other types of businesses would also be considered. 

“It’s a great space because we’re in the downtown area, and we’re right across from the Warehouse District,” she said. 

Leslie Renken can be reached at 309-370-5087 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken. 

via Peoria Journal Star

January 3, 2022 at 06:59AM

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