DeKALB – On Monday, Susan Petersen had a new title at a new organization, but her goal remained the same.
“The early children program needs to be a stellar program in our communities ... and it will remain as such,” Petersen said.
After 19 years as the executive director of the Growing Place, a child care organization in DeKalb, Petersen became the executive director of Community Coordinated Child Care, an organization that provides support to day care centers.
Petersen replaces Micki Chulick, who spent 33 years as executive director of 4-C. Chulick said 4-C increased its accessibility and availability during her tenure, something that could not be accomplished without the organization’s board of directors and staff.
Replacing Petersen at Growing Place is Caitlin Franklin, who worked as a parenting consultant at 4-C.
“I’m looking forward to working with the children and families,” Franklin said. “Early childhood is essential, and I’m really passionate about it.”
Adele Pantilla, the program director at Growing Place, has worked for the organization for 20 years – nearly as long as Petersen. She said Petersen’s dedication affected the 150 children Growing Place serves on a daily basis.
“The Growing Place staff members, families and children have long benefited from Susan’s compassion and generosity of spirit, which will be greatly missed,” Pantilla said. “Through the years, Susan has successfully linked families to the appropriate resources in the community, a community she will continue to serve as executive director of 4-C.”
It’s not an easy time to be a child care center in Illinois. The state has a backlog of bills totaling $8.5 billion, and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka recently announced that she will pay agencies that serve the developmentally disabled first.
Both Franklin and Petersen said they would emphasize the importance of childhood education to local legislators.
Chulick said 4-C is “hoping for the best and preparing for the worst” in regard to the state’s fiscal mess, and that although there would be some reductions in programs, the staff would not be reduced.