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Lawmakers organize meeting to address concerns over Stepping Stones closure

Randy Gorbman

Two area lawmakers brought a number of service providers and other agencies together Friday in an effort to help the families impacted by the sudden closure of a local daycare operation.

It’s now estimated that more than 150 families were affected by last week’s closing of the Stepping Stones Learning Center, an Irondequoit daycare that provided daycare and classroom instruction for a number of children, many of them with developmental disabilities.

State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and State Senator Rich Funke met with various agencies at the Irondequoit Town Hall to talk about how to help these families going forward.

Funke is hopeful space will be found for the children who were affected.

“Many of these young people have been placed in programs already and we are gathering information now as to how we can secure their information and make certain that going forward they will all find programs, and they will all find the help that they need,” Funke told reporters.

Morelle says state education officials may be able to speed up the process for other local daycare operations who want to expand to help these children.

“One of the things that state ed. department has offered to do is to provide expedited review of requests from agencies to add to their census so that they can take in some of these kids. We’ve also talked about background checks for staff, whether we could expedite those applications and those requests,” Morelle said.

Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza says there has been a very good response from other daycare operations and a number of other agencies in the area.

“I’ve been very impressed by the open arms approach that a lot of the organizations in the community have showed to us. There’s clearly a commitment to help these kids through a very difficult situation,” Mendoza told WXXI News.

Mendoza says one option the county may be able to provide is helping connect families with in-home services on a temporary basis if another daycare cannot be found for a child.

Various state and county officials say they are also working with the families to help them find solutions in the wake of the Stepping Stones closure.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.