Barker Child Development Center - Fall Child Care Update

Barker Child Development Center from Egg Harbor Road



Door County YMCA will Not Resume Childcare this Fall 
at the Barker Child Development Center  


STURGEON BAY, WI (July 1, 2020) — On June 30th, the Door County YMCA Board of Directors made the decision to not resume childcare services at the Barker Child Development Center. The center discontinued operation of childcare at the onset of the pandemic in late March. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the general operation of the YMCA program will be challenged. “To remain solvent and in business, the YMCA has had to make, and will continue to make, difficult staffing and program decisions,” said Beerntsen. “Unfortunately, closing the Barker Center was one of these decisions. The board directed the YMCA to remain in the conversation on childcare in the community.”

“This was a very difficult decision,” said Tom Beerntsen, Chief Executive Officer, Door County YMCA. “The board of directors and staff discussed every option. We reached out to past donors, local government entities, industrial leaders, foundations and sought grant funding. We met with a childcare facility in Green Bay to gauge their interest in expanding operations. We met with local individuals and organizations who have expressed interest in getting into the childcare business. Unfortunately, these efforts have not found a solution to offset the minimum projected losses for affordable, quality childcare.” 

Since the inception of the program in 2012, the Door County YMCA's childcare program, located at the Barker Child Development Center at 1743 Egg Harbor Road in Sturgeon Bay served six week old babies through children four years of age. Since opening, almost all four year-olds have left the YMCA’s care to enroll in free all day 4K through the public school system. This broke the business model for childcare. The Barker Child Development Center incurred significant financial losses despite operating at full capacity. Generous YMCA donors helped to subsidize the Center. 

Named in honor of philanthropists Ruth and Hartley Barker, the Barker Child Development Center was a group-licensed center serving nearly 100 children on a daily basis. The center attained a YoungStar 4-Star rating.

“We are all saddened by the loss of this service because we are aware of the added stress this causes families,” said Mike Felhofer, president of the board. “Affordable childcare is not only a Door County problem, it’s a national problem.”

The Door County YMCA remains focused on strengthening the community in spirit, mind and body. 

  • The Summer Foods Program provides a free lunch to all children (18/under) in the community during the summer months.
  • The YMCA works to combat isolation for seniors through programming that brings them together, keeping them stronger in body, mind, and spirit.
  • Geographically surrounded by water, the YMCA helps keep the community safe by offering water safety classes and swimming lessons for all ages and abilities. 
  • The YMCA offers programming for all members, from the very youngest in our community, to the very oldest while adhering to their core values: Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. 
  • Through the YMCA’s Membership for All program, no one is ever turned away from the Door County YMCA for an inability to pay. All are welcome. 
  • People come together to volunteer and help strengthen the community.


For more information or with questions, contact: Tom Beerntsen, Chief Executive Officer - Door County YMCA, by email ( or phone (920.743.4949).


Locations: Sturgeon Bay Center
Category: News