Child Care Leader Retires

June  13, 2013

     A long career in child care and pre-school officially ends this week. Laurie Walker, president and ceo of SAL Family and Community Services, will retire after 36 years with the agency. When she was hired as a teacher and social worker in 1976, Skip a Long, as it was known then, had one center and 75 children. Now it has four centers in the Quad Cities, and hosts more than 1,000 children every day - from infant up to age five. Walker credits the growth to community demand.

     "This is the infrastructure for any community's economic development. Everybody's got to have a place - a good safe educational nurturing place for their children in order for them to feel good about going off to work and being a productive taxpayer and contributor to society."

     SAL now has about 200 full and part-time employees. She thinks one of the major changes during her long tenure has been the opening of the Home Network in the late 90's - a network of homes affiliated with the agency. 

     "There were not opportunities for parents working second and third shift, not-traditional hours, maybe rotating shifts, nurses, or folks who woork in restaurants, hotels, and grocery stories that are contstantly needing different hours than the standard 7 to 3 or 9 to 5."

     The Home Network now has 52 home day care centers, hosting 400 children. Walker's last day on the job will be Friday (6/14), then she'll take a long-planned family vacation, read, and play golf. Plus she'll train her replacement who has not yet been hired.