August opening planned

 Salem Lutheran childcare center director Jenn Kazekewicz and pastor Michael Nielsen stand at the entrance of the church’s soon-to-open child care center. The center is expected to open next month with a capacity of up to 49 children.

Spots in the Salem Lutheran Church’s new child car center in Barron are filling up. Much of the childcare addition has been constructed, and the center is expected to open by the end of August. 

Salem will be licensed by the State of Wisconsin for up to 49 children. That includes eight children aged 6 weeks to 2 years, eight children 2-3 years and 33 children ages 3-4. 

A large open area of the church is being remodeled into several rooms to serve as a childcare center. 

“It was a lot of empty space that was underutilized,” said pastor Michael Nielsen. 

Childcare has been a project for Nielsen since he joined the church 2 ½ years ago.

“As we were looking at the needs of the community, we saw that child care was a big need,” he said. 

A feasibility study was done, and the congregation voted in October of 2019 to go ahead with the project. 

“The congregation has a passion to serve kids,” said Nielsen.

Committees were formed to focus on personnel, policy and the facility. The pandemic put a pause on the project for a time, but the church continued with building plans. 

In May, Jenn Kazekewicz was hired to serve as the childcare center director. 

Kazekewicz has worked in childcare and special education for several years. She has an associate’s degree from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and is now working toward a bachelor’s degree.

She said the center could employ as many as four full-time positions and one part-time job, depending on the number of children enrolled. 

Nielsen said the center is receiving applications from families all over Barron County. 

In tandem with providing quality childcare, the church hopes to help children and their families in their journey in faith.

“That’s what we are here for. It isn’t about making a profit,” he said.

Bill Balts Construction is the contractor on the remodel, which includes new classrooms, ADA-accessible restrooms, storage and office space. 

An open house event is planned for Friday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 21, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The church is also having a dedication service at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22, with a picnic to follow. 

For more information, contact Salem Lutheran Church at 715-537-3011 or visit salembarron.com.