Lackawanna County Child Care Agreement Becomes Hot Topic

A seven-year-old agreement over child care became a hot topic Wednesday at a commissioners meeting in Lackawanna County.

County officials are looking into whether they should keep or replace the company that currently runs its child care license.

The Hilderbrandt Learning Centers currently operates out of the Lackawanna County Visitor’s Bureau and Convention Center in Moosic. Other firms will now have the chance to possibly take over the county’s child care license.

Wednesday, the agreement came under the microscope after the county put out a “Request for Qualifications” to see if any other company wants the job.

Some questioned why Lackawanna County even owns a child care license to begin with.

“Legally, the county of Lackawanna is listed as the legal entity for Hilderbrandt Learning Centers which means that should anything happen under any circumstances, Lackawanna County and the taxpayers are responsible,” Jocelyn Kreig, owner of Kreig Institute for Early Childhood Education in Moosic said.

The original contract was signed in 2005 by former commissioner Bob Cordaro but is now up for renewal.

The current commissioners say Hildebrandt not only pays rent to the county but also pays all utilities for the visitor’s center.

Officials also maintain they are covered if anything were to happen.

“Through the contract that we have we’re indemnified so we don’t have any concerns regarding liability,” County Chief of Staff Maria Elkins said.

In 2005, the agreement was never bid out because it was considered a professional service.

This time, day care center owners say they want to make sure the process is fair.

“I have no problem going against someone else who may want to bid the program,” Hildebrandt CEO William Grant said. “We may win, we may lose.”

Current commissioner Corey O’Brien admits he sends his kids to the facility. He says he will not vote on the matter when it comes before the board of commissioners, especially if more than one company wants to operate the service.

“I leave it up to our professional staff to do that process and for my fellow commissioners who will make that decision,” Commissioner O’Brien said.

Lackawanna County officials say it is not unique for a governmental agency to have a child care license. They say there are several others, including federal agencies, that have one.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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