Daycare for special needs children fighting to stay at church

A local daycare for special needs children is under pressure to leave by the church where they operate.

They’re fighting for time to stay, until they find a new facility.

It is an answered prayer for parents that have kids with disabilities. Jenny Dumont-Radler, the founder of “A Place for Grace” in Saginaw Township said it is the only childcare facility in the area that is all-inclusive.

“Some of my families have said, ‘I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t open. I would have to quit my job, because there’s nobody else to take care of my child,'” Dumont-Radler said.

Now A Place for Grace daycare, located in First United Methodist church, faces an eviction suit from the church itself almost two years before the lease is up.

In a statement to tv5, the church cites breaches of it lease, and said:

“The attorney for the Board of Trustees, the legal body of Saginaw First United Methodist Church, has filed an eviction suit against A Place for Grace, LLC day care center, Jenny Dumont Radler, the owner of the for-profit business, and two other entities affiliated thereof. The tenant was first notified of the intent to terminate the lease on June 26, 2021, and she has been represented by an attorney since June 28, 2021. The owner was formally served with notice of default for multiple breaches of their lease on July 19, 2021, and per the lease, was given 30 days to cure the defaults. When the tenant failed to act, a ‘Notice to Quit to Recover Possession of Property’ was served on the tenant on August 19, 2021, requiring they move out by October 19, 2021. The owner ignored that notice.

For more than seven years, the day care has received rent-free space on the church campus based on a mutual agreement that the organization was either a 501c(3) nonprofit, or that the owner would actively secure the legal designation in a timely manner, and would comply with the board oversight and fiscal transparency that all non-profits are expected to provide to the community. There was a clear understanding that free use of the church campus was only a short-term agreement, allowing the owner to actively seek and secure a more suitable location.

While the Trustees do not question the value of the service this for-profit day care provides, and sympathize with the families impacted by this decision, Jenny Dumont Radler, the owner of the daycare, has failed to make a good-faith effort to meet the terms of this agreement with the Church.

The lease required 30 days’ notice of default with 30 days to address and correct breaches. The trustees provided almost 120 days. To allow more time for parents to make care arrangements, Trustees also offered an extended deadline of December 31, 2021. The owner rejected the offer. Therefore, on October 20, the trustees did follow through with filing the eviction suit.

The Board of Trustees has been patient and generous. However, housing a for-profit business on church property places the 501c(3) status of Saginaw First United Methodist Church at risk. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the church. Under these current circumstances, eviction of the tenant became the unfortunate final option.”

“We haven’t violated our lease. So, we’re trying to figure out what’s the real reason, what’s going on?” Dumont-Radler said.

Dumont-Radler said she began looking for a new space for the 35 special needs children and adults her daycare supervises back in June when the church served her with a letter telling her that the locks would be changed Sept. 1.

She hired a lawyer, a move that delayed eviction.

“The church has since filed a suit for possession, and there is a pretrial hearing on Monday,” Dumont-Radler.

Dumont-Radler said she doesn’t want to remain at the church but finding new space for a daycare is something that can’t be rushed.

“We just need a little bit of time so that we can secure this new place and go through the licensing process, and getting the inspections, and scheduling a move that’s done in the right way. We’re just–we’re gonna leave,” Dumont-Radler said.

She is presenting in front of a local school board Nov. 17 in hopes of occupying one of their spaces. She doesn’t want to be forced to close her doors in the meantime, leaving 35 parents with nowhere to take their children.

“The fear they must feel of knowing that, ‘oh my god, if a place for grace closes, what am I going to do?’ ” Dumont-Radler said.

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