Nation’s First Daycare for Kids with Immune Deficiencies Planned Near Union Hill

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Children's Haven will provide a safe place where children with immune deficiencies can support one another and learn. (Image from Children's Haven)

By Kevin Collison

What’s being described as the nation’s first licensed day care center for children with weakened immune systems is planned for donated space near Union Hill.

RJ Children’s Haven is expected to be a place where children diagnosed with diseases that damage their immune system including cancer, genetic disorders and transplants can share their healthcare journey rather than go it alone.

“When a child’s immune system is suppressed, he or she cannot attend school, day care or activities in the community without a risk of infection,” said Karen Anthony, executive director. “Children can spend formative months and years in isolation at home.”

A building at 2924 Cherry St. has been offered rent-free for the Children’s Haven program and renovations have been provided by community donors. Backers hope to have the facility open by the first quarter of next year.

Developer Vince Bryant, one of the supporters, said he helped Children’s Haven find the space after being contacted by Anthony.

He said their plan to help vulnerable kids overcome their isolation “tugged at my heart strings.

“I worked with people to secure a building so they could do their work on the operational side,” he said. “We could help them get their project off the ground and bring the benefits to sick kids.

“You’re not only helping kids with a scary illness, but providing them with a social outlet so they don’t fall behind, an environment where they can learn.”

Donors are providing this building at 2924 Cherry St. rent-free for the Children’s Haven daycare program.

Anthony said Children’s Haven will have an onsite certified daycare director, an experienced pediatric nurse and other trained staff as needed. The facility is close to Children’s Mercy Hospital and the Truman Medical Center.

“As a priority, we want to help all children dealing with loneliness and depression which can occur because of their diagnosis,” Anthony said.

The Children’s Haven benefactors in obtaining the property include Bryant, Suzie Aron and Joseph Levin, John and Sharon Hoffman, and Frank and Ann Uryasz.

The children will study assignments from their regular teachers with the help of volunteers. Younger children will participate in the kinds of activities usually found at daycare centers including creative play and reading activities.

“As a priority, we want to help all children dealing with loneliness and depression which can occur because of their diagnosis,” Anthony said.

Backers say an additional benefit will be providing parents with a safe place to bring their children. Oftentimes, parents of children with immune-suppressing illnesses must give up their jobs to stay home with their child.

To assure the children are safe, plans call for the new RJ Children’s Haven to have a special heating, cooling and ventilation system to remove dangerous airborne spores and contaminants. Children, staff and visitors also will have to remove their shoes upon entry.

Plans call for the new Children’s Haven to be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Initially, the daycare will be able to accommodate 20- to 30 school age children.

A fundraiser and information session to help raise money to operate the facility is scheduled for Sept. 12 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the rooftop of Corrigan Station. For more information, email: eboard@rjchildrenshaven.org

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