A High Springs church is planning an expansion of its new preschool and daycare center after strong demand led to a waitlist only days after opening.
"We are full already," said Adam Joy, pastor of Deeper Purpose Community Church and head administrator of Deeper Purpose Kids Academy. "We've only been open a week."
Joy said Deeper Purpose is the first nonprofit preschool to open in the High Springs/Alachua area in more than a decade. He said the preschool came about after High Springs Daycare Center closed in 2020.
"The neighborhood that other daycare was in was close to a high-crime area," Joy said in a phone interview. "There was a shooting there right next to that daycare center, and the owner said that is enough."
Joy—who organizes the annual High Springs Easter egg hunt—said since 2018 he had been thinking about ways to minister to younger children in the community.
"After that other daycare shut down, that's when we were like we need to go ahead and do this and not drag it out," Joy said.
Deeper Purpose quickly sold out its 24 spots and plans to take over an adjoining suite in July, expanding capacity by another 30 children.
Joy said the church is able to supplement the daycare's operating expenses to keep rates low.
"So many of them flocked to us because we [have] the lowest rates in the area," Joy said. "Some families were paying double what we're charging them."
Rates range from $125 per week for 4-year-olds up to $180 per week for infants. The cost includes care for up to 11 hours per day, lunch and several snacks.
Joy said the reason for operating as a nonprofit is to help the community.
"The money that does not go to employee salaries goes back into the community for outreach to families," he said. "Our mission is to provide the best quality childcare, while maintaining a safe, fun and loving Christian learning environment."
As a church, Joy said Deeper Purpose is exempt from licensure by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), but he said the academy adheres to DCF background screening requirements and is accredited by Green Apple Accreditation of Children's Services. He said the operation passed its health and safety inspection "with flying colors."