THE owners of an East Preston child care centre are celebrating a major step forward.
Rascals, which looks after more than 300 children aged between four and 12 outside school hours, has signed a ten-year lease to fully take over the former East Preston Youth Centre, its home for the past nine years.
“It’s a dream come true for us,” said Tim Jackson, co-owner of Rascals with his wife, Emma.
“We now have the whole building, on two floors, and it means we can get on with the jobs we have always wanted do, redecorating – it’s all battleship grey at the moment – and adding permanent fixtures and fittings.”
The couple, and their staff team of four, run a breakfast club, after-school club and holiday play schemes at their base, in Lashmar Road.
They started with just 11 children in 2005, including Sophie Horn, now 19, who is now one of Rascals’ playworkers.
West Sussex County Council, which owns the building, stopped funding the youth centre in April, but a clause in the lease says that Rascals must offer one night a week for activities for youngsters aged 13-17, and final details for a Friday night session are being worked out.
“The building will be much better used now than it was before,” said Tim.
“It will be available to anyone who would like to book it during school hours – we’ve been round the village and there is nowhere else taking regular bookings, they are all filled up.”
A couple of weeks ago, Rascals served up a record 187 breakfasts in just one week and its location, next to East Preston’s infant and junior schools, makes it ideal for staff to accompany children to the schools for the start of the day, and in the case of infants, take them into their classrooms.
Roughly half Rascals’ children attend Rustington’s Georgian Gardens Primary School and for the holiday playschemes, children come from as far away as Worthing and Arundel.
As well as tucking into their breakfast, those attending before school can choose from a range of activities, while children at the after-school sessions have an even wider range to, including sports and games outside and computer games and craft activities indoors.
For more information about Rascals, call 01903 772000.