A nearly 140-year-old Utah nonprofit now owns and operates a familiar Taylorsville preschoolSep 08, 2022 12:09PM ● By Carl Fauver
Between the three of them, Encarni Gallardo, Lindsey Blackburn and Marley Bindrup have lived and worked in China, Spain and across our United States, literally from coast-to-coast (North Carolina to California). But after all that globetrotting, now the trio is concentrating its professional efforts in Taylorsville – at the Building Blocks Childcare Center (5218 S. Redwood Road).
The modest building on the westside of Redwood has served as a preschool and daycare for decades. But as of last fall, it’s now the first-ever childcare center under the direction of our state’s oldest non-deno minational child welfare and family support agency.
A dozen years before Utah became our country’s 46 state – back when horse-drawn wagons were about the only way to get around the Salt Lake Valley – the Children’s Service Society of Utah was born. According to their website (cssutah.org), the group began operations when a president you’ve never heard of (Chester A. Arthur, our 21s POTUS) was in the White House – and they have never ceased operations.
“On Oct. 13, 1884, 34 ladies met to organize a day nursery in Salt Lake City to help the working poor and provide a safe place for their children while the parent worked,” the website explains. “Today, Children’s Service Society of Utah empowers families and caregivers through services that support the safety and well-being of children.”
After moving to Utah from Spain a quarter-century ago, Encarni Gallardo went to work for CSS Utah in October 2001. She’s been its executive director for eight years.
“We have a staff of about 50 people and provide many services including assisting with adoptions and offering grandparents training and support when they have become primary caregivers to their grandchildren,” Gallardo explained. “This (Taylorsville site) is our first child care center. We took over the place last October, did some extensive renovating and opened it as Building Blocks Childcare Center in February.”
The site has a capacity of 41 kids and currently only has room to accept a few additional 3 year olds. Their fees are much lower than the “going rate” for child care, because of grant funding provided by the United Way of Salt Lake. But that funding is year-to-year, so costs could increase significantly in January.
“Our hope is to renew the grant funding and we are optimistic,” Gallardo concluded. “But you never know until it’s official.”
Under Gallardo in the preschool’s chain of command is Lindsey Blackburn, who’s now finishing up her training to become Building Blocks Childcare Center’s first official director.
“I moved to Utah from Charlotte, North Carolina in December 2020 and started working here (under the previous owners) in March 2021,” Blackburn explained. “I have also lived in Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Palm Springs. But I feel ‘home’ now. I love watching the kids develop. The new (CSS Utah) owners have made so many improvements. I can see myself doing this for years to come. I look forward to going to work every day. And Encarni has been such a great mentor. She is amazing.”
Four teachers work under Blackburn at the center. Marley Bindrup instructs the oldest group, ages 3 to 5. She’s the one who called China home for half a year, where she taught kindergarten. Although preschools and daycares have a reputation for paying staff poorly, Bindrup says that’s not the case at Building Blocks Childcare Center. She instructs about 10 to 14 pre-K kids, five days a week.
“I really like what I’m doing; I am shocked at how fun it is,” she said. “I offer explicit education about three hours each day, helping the kids recognize and read letters and numbers. But even our play time is educational. Our kids tend an outside garden. We help our children explore their interests and to dive deeper into the things they like most.”
Gallardo reports, if this Taylorsville site is successful, her 138-year-old organization may consider opening more preschools in other parts of the state. The organization has several satellite offices across Utah – just no other child care centers.
Building Blocks Childcare Center in Taylorsville is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information on availability and pricing call 385-388-4993 or email [email protected] λ