One Step at a Time Academy is a childcare facility located in Voorhees Township, New Jersey. In 2018, Anjulique Singleton opened the Academy with her mother while simultaneously working as a full-time nurse. A native to the Voorhees area herself, Singleton saw a need for affordable and high-quality childcare, which sparked the idea for One Step at a Time.
“I never lost sight of [One Step at a Time] being a goal to help out my community that I grew up in,” Singleton stated.
In normal circumstances, One Step at a Time serves 110 families, with 95% of those on subsidies. Open year-round, One Step provides breakfast, two snacks, and lunch under the federal Child and Adult Care Food (CACFP) program. Families served must meet the salary restriction and approved by both the center and the CACFP program.
In March 2020, as the COVID-19 cases began to spike, the state mandated closures of schools and non-essential businesses.
“Some parts of me wanted to close, it was scary, but there were essential workers like nurses who needed childcare,” Singleton said.
Although they had the option to close due to the pandemic, One Step at a Time chose to stay open, which was not an easy decision to come to. They wanted to ensure they could provide care for families of essential workers. In addition, they increased their capacity to accept school-aged children.
Major adjustments to adhere to social distancing and safety measures had to be made. For example, classrooms had to be split up, sanitation measures had to increase, and communal toys had to be replaced. Adjustments like these led to many unanticipated and increased costs. Although expensive, it was necessary to ensure they could remain open safely.
With the NJCNF grant, One Step at a Time was able to expand food handling capacities, hire additional staff, and purchase food and materials.
One Step at a Time has faced a lot of uncertainty and change when adapting to the pandemic.
“[NJCNF grant] helped me feel like someone [was] there with resources and [that there was] someone who [had] my back and the daycare’s back.”
Beginning June 15th, One Step at a Time began welcoming back everyone. Slowly, but surely, the numbers have been rising. Currently, they have been serving approximately 55-60 families.
With their community’s needs in mind, One Step at a Time continues to operate safely to ensure families remain confident in their facility.
One Step at a Time is a grantee under Reinvestment Fund’s New Jersey Child Nutrition Fund (NJCNF) program. NJCNF supports organizations that participate or seek to participate in the CACFP and/or the SFSP to expand the availability of fresh and nutritious food to children across the state of New Jersey. Recent awards under the program have also aimed to ensure the continuity of meal services through the pandemic-related disruptions.
ABOUT NJ CHILD NUTRITION FUND (NJCNF)
NJCNF aims to increase the number of low-income children receiving meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Additionally, NJCNF seeks to facilitate the use of fresh, local and ethnically appropriate food whenever possible.
In the summer of 2020, Reinvestment Fund used NJCNF resources to offer emergency meal grants to meet the immediate capital and operational needs of organizations as they worked to respond to the evolving pandemic-related crisis.
The New Jersey Child Nutrition Fund initiative is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.