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Child care center to reopen at fire-damaged temple
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Child care center to reopen at fire-damaged temple

Peter Schild of Old Bridge and Allan Greenberg of Highland Park joined other members of the Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth at an “assembly party” Jan. 24 to put together furniture and equipment for its Above and Bey
Peter Schild of Old Bridge and Allan Greenberg of Highland Park joined other members of the Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth at an “assembly party” Jan. 24 to put together furniture and equipment for its Above and Bey

The day-care center at the Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth will soon reopen, nearly completing the synagogue’s renewal three-and-a-half years after a fire swept through it.

The Above and Beyond Child Care Center will open its doors on Feb. 15 for babies from six weeks to one year old. The center expects to add a two-year-old class next year, for current children who reenroll and new customers, according to Gittel Footerman, who cochairs the center’s committee with her husband, Justin. She said they hope the center will gradually serve older children through nursery school age, as it had prior to the fire in the summer of 2006.

“We’re not looking to take children from any other facility,” said Footerman. “We also know people don’t like to pull their children out of somewhere else in the middle of the year.”

The center’s opening nearly completes the synagogue’s $4.5 million repair and rebuilding project. A spring dedication is planned.

Footerman showed off the new day-care center wing during a Jan. 24 “assembly party.” Temple volunteers helped assemble furniture and play equipment. Rooms were being readied, waiting for coats of paint and for toys and equipment. Unlike the previous center, which was downstairs in the synagogue building, the “bright, airy” rooms are at ground level, with lots of windows.

The center meets or exceeds state Division of Youth and Family Services standards, “in every area,” said Footerman, including a teacher-to-child ratio above state requirements that will see at least two teachers assigned to each classroom.

The new center will feature a separate kitchen area, changing tables, and separate bathrooms for children and adults. It will have its own separate entrance accessible to parents and staff through a security system that will use a swipe card, said Footerman.

A visual monitoring system will be installed in each classroom enabling parents to watch their children from the center office. Footerman, a retired speech pathologist for the New Brunswick school system, said she thought that was an important feature.

“I’ve seen this throughout my professional career,” she said. “The child sees his mother come into the room and — ‘Waa.’ The mother thinks her child is not happy, when just moments before he was playing and happy.” With the monitoring system, she said, the parents will be able to see the child busy and content.

Those interested in information or enrolling their children should call 732-545-KIDS (5437) or aboveandbeyondkids.com.

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