The Montgomery Child Care Association runs a child care facility on Dameron Drive in the Forest Glen area of Silver Spring. Credit: Steve Bohnel

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16, 2022, to include comment from Holy Cross Health.

After some initial confusion, a longtime child care provider has been assured it can continue operations in its Forest Glen location in Silver Spring — and it soon will welcome a neighbor and new child care provider, thanks to the efforts of a local Jewish congregation.

Montgomery Child Care Association, the largest nonprofit child care provider in the county, has been operating a location at 9805 Dameron Drive for more than 40 years. In recent months, senior officials from the organization became concerned when they learned that Chabad of Silver Spring wanted to run its own child care center at the same location.

Michelle Green, executive director of the association, wrote in a letter to the County Council and County Executive Marc Elrich in August that the association was initially concerned that it might be forced to close its location because state regulations dictate that two child care facilities cannot share the same space.

The association initially learned about Chabad looking to locate in the property after an inspection was done of upper floors of the building, which included the county fire marshal, Green wrote.

“As Montgomery County’s oldest and largest nonprofit child care provider serving more than 475 families daily and employing more than 120 staff, many of whom are women of color, we are deeply concerned about breach of trust by the County and disregard for the contributions that MCCA’s child care services make to the economic and social fabric of Montgomery County,” Green wrote.

Since sending the letter, Green has been informed that both the association — serving 125 children at the Dameron Drive location, which is the association’s largest — and Chabad of Silver Spring can both operate out of the building, Green said in an email this week to Bethesda Beat.

The association has “received assurances that there will be no disruption to its child care operations at this location,” Green wrote. She deferred all other questions to County Executive Marc Elrich’s office.

Debbie Spielberg, a special assistant to Elrich, said this week the county owns the building on Dameron Drive, but the lease has been transferred from Holy Cross Health — which, according to its website, operates its Resource Center, offering medical adult day care, caregiver resources, and other services at the site — to Chabad of Silver Spring, a Jewish congregation and Hebrew school.

Spielberg said the association and Chabad — which aims to run a child care facility under its Gan Montessori program — both will be able to operate out of the building because they will have separate entrances, parking lots and play areas.

The building is a large brick structure, with the Montgomery County Child Care Association located down a shallow decline on the northern side, and the Holy Cross resource center occupying the rest of the building, split into office space and larger rooms. 

Kristin Feliciano, a spokeswoman for Holy Cross Health, said that the coronavirus pandemic caused the health care provider to reassess how it uses space, including for administrative support staff and similar uses. Feliciano wrote that Holy Cross had leased the old school building on Dameron Drive for decades, and that some services will remain.

“We notified the County that we would need less space, although our Medical Adult Day Program and our Caregiver Resource Center still reside in the building.,” Feliciano wrote in an email. “The space we vacated was where some of the … administrative support departments worked. Those individuals are working in a hybrid environment and have consolidated their ‘on-site’ space into another building.”

Rabbi Berel Wolvovsky, one of the co-directors of Chabad of Silver Spring, said this week that his organization has been providing child care services countywide for about 15 years. Acquiring space at the Dameron Drive location will allow them to serve another 100 children, Wolvovsky said. 

He added that he met with senior officials at Montgomery Child Care Association and that the two organizations plan to provide quality child care in the same building. Wolvovsky said that discussions with Holy Cross Health about taking over its lease began in the past couple of months. 

He emphasized that he did not want to prevent Montgomery Child Care Association from continuing to operate in the space at Dameron Drive. Demand for child care is high countywide and more services are needed, Wolvovsky added.

“We would never want to create a product that would directly hamper or impede their school,” he said. Wolvovsky said he hopes to open the new child care center sometime in October.

Forest Glen resident Matt McKillop has a 3-year-old daughter who attends the Montgomery Child Care Association’s center on Dameron Drive. Initially, some parents were concerned about potential disruptions because of the switch in the building’s leaseholder and how that might impact the center, he said.

Allowing both child care programs to exist in the same space is good news because quality, affordable child care is needed, especially in the greater Silver Spring area, McKillop said.

“I don’t think there was any concern with Chabad of Silver Spring … and I don’t think there’s any opposition to creating more access to child care, that’s certainly a priority for us,” McKillop said. 

“For parents with young children, there’s really nothing more important than them having a high-quality place that they can have their child be throughout the day for when they’re working … it’s such a vital asset to the neighborhood and the community,” he added.