SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — After years of debate, a Sheboygan daycare has finally opened its doors. The first phase of the center opened this week.
It has been a long road for Angel Berry to get to the moment of opening their doors Monday.
Her center, A Million Dreamz, brought a closed-down school back to life. Four out of the 13 classrooms are finished.
Center Director Kate Crowe Boucher said, "When you come through the door you see be kind I'm already noticing that from our teachers just that they're providing a level of care that's kind to the children is the first thing they need."
Once every room is finished, Angel says they can look after children of all abilities, including special needs from infancy to 17 years old, 24/7.
The whole idea did not come without skepticism. In city council meetings, some neighbors in 2021 shared worries that her facility open 24 hours a day, seven days a week would change their peaceful North Side neighborhood.
Sheboygan leaders realized the area is a daycare desert for families, which means for every available childcare slot, there are three more children on a waitlist.
Right now, Angel says she has 300 children on her own waitlist. She knows first hand having a child with special needs is even harder, "In my experience, I couldn't keep a job, I couldn't stay in classes in college because the number one priority becomes what your children's needs are."
In this first phase, the center will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. while she hires more staff and the facility continues to be built. There is one noise she is happy to hear more of soon, "Giggling and playing and singing from the other room and it's been a really long road to get here."
The daycare center is entirely non-profit. Angel says she has $800,000 left to raise to finish the building. She plans to continue to raise money after that with the hope to keep the cost of daycare under 20 percent of each family's income.
We reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) to see if there are any current 24-hour daycares in the state, and they told us there are dozens. None, however, are located in Sheboygan County. DCF tells us there are three facilities with nighttime care within a 40-mile radius of Sheboygan compared with nearly 900 facilities with nighttime care in the Milwaukee area.