Huge Palo Alto day care center closes

Hundreds of low-cost slots disappear as Peninsula Day Care owners retire

Three hundred low-cost child-care slots in Palo Alto disappeared last week when the owners of the 37-year-old Peninsula Day Care Center closed their doors to retire.

Herman Shaw, a pastor who began offering day care in 1974, 20 years after he built the Christian Life Church at 525 San Antonio Road, announced a year ago he would close the center this month. Shaw said he wanted to provide ample notice so parents could make other arrangements.

Friday (June 10) was the final day of operation.

A liquidation sale of school and office supplies — as well as a church pulpit and miscellaneous restaurant items (Shaw also owns and operates Country Gourmet restaurant in Mountain View) — will be held June 18 and June 25, beginning at 8 a.m.

Plans for the 3.5-acre property remain unclear. The Palo Alto City Council last month rejected a bid by SummerHill Homes for a new, 23-home development.

With its fleet of yellow buses and wide frontage on San Antonio, the nonsectarian Peninsula Day Care Center was a familiar if somewhat anomalous enterprise — housed in what still appears to be a church (it is not) and charging far less than the going rate at other Palo Alto child care centers.

Preschool parents paid about $612 a month for 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. care, compared with more than $1,400 charged at Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC).

Parents of school-age children paid about $400 a month for before- and after-school care, which included bus transportation to and from elementary campuses in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos. On-site before- and after-school care at Palo Alto elementary schools runs about $670 a month.

"So many parents come in here and say, 'We didn't even check you out because your prices were so low we figured you had to be crummy,'" said Eddie Shaw, Herman Shaw's sister, a retired Los Altos elementary school teacher who has helped at the school in recent years.

Shaw spoke last week in an immaculate classroom neatly stacked with school supplies in preparation for a liquidation sale later this month.

With multiple acres, Peninsula Day Care Center has huge playgrounds and separate facilities for preschool and school-age programs.

Low tuition was possible, Shaw said, "because we own the property, and it's truly nonprofit."

The center catered to working parents, observing public-school minimum days and holiday schedules. Most children came from Mountain View, Palo Alto and Los Altos, in that order, with their parents holding jobs in Palo Alto, she said.

Clients ranged from about 10 percent who qualified for state child-care subsidies, to doctors and nurses at Stanford University Medical Center to corporate CEOs, she said.

Peninsula Day Care Center also ran a side business, offering bus transportation for thousands of field trips for public schools in Los Altos and Mountain View, she said.

In fact, the expense of complying with the latest bus-emissions regulations from the state was a factor in the decision to close the center, she said.

Shaw said she thinks most families have found alternative child care, many through the YMCA in Mountain View. Peninsula Day Care invited parents to a "day care fair" one Saturday in March, at which other centers set up recruiting tables.

"We just want people to know how much we've enjoyed serving the community," she said.

"We've been here so long we have children whose parents came here as children, and staff who were here as children and came back to work for us."

One bus will be donated to a staff member who's starting a center for abused women in Mexico, Shaw said, and 20 tables and 200 chairs were sold at low cost to a church that's building a school in Guatemala.

Herman Shaw, who personally opened the day care center at 6:30 a.m. each day, will spend more time at his restaurant, his sister said. Shaw's late wife, Mary Jo, had managed the preschool program. She died last year.

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Like this comment
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Awww... you will be missed. Good luck, Herman Shaw.

1 person likes this
Posted by Mireya
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

MONARCH CHRISTIAN SCHOOL is a great alternative. It is located in Los Altos, right off of I-280 on Foothill Blvd. It offers a superior Montessori teaching environment at very affordable tuition rates.

Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm

What a shame...I preferred this daycare over kid had a great time there!

1 person likes this
Posted by dla
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 15, 2011 at 7:22 am

This was a great daycare. Great pricing, hours and values. Running a daycare like PDCC takes special talents and dedication. Hats off to Herman Shaw and his staff.

1 person likes this
Posted by smon
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

great school, love Paster Shaw

Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

Sad that no one could step in and pick up where the owners left off. The socializing positives of day-care are under-appreciated, and pay off big time down the road. Day care is a stabilizing force in a modern society where two parents are forced to work to survive.

1 person likes this
Posted by local mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm

A great example of a private institution providing a public good.
When we fret about supporting our youth, we should keep in mind that it is does not all fall to the city and school district.

There are some great businesses that are doing their best to serve families and children. This is one example, another is the Palo Alto Bowl bowling alley. As a community we should value and support these businesses.

I know that PDCC will missed by many families.
Regulations and insurance issues are creating a very difficult climate for day cares.

1 person likes this
Posted by Palo Alto Mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Yes. And now we have a shortage of day care in south Palo Alto and City Council is considering selling off their eight acres of Cubberley to Foothill, the home of TWO child care centers, among other important community services...and our only remaining potential secondary school site. Bad idea.

1 person likes this
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Was no one interested in buying this practice?

1 person likes this
Posted by Tiffany rose
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 16, 2011 at 10:15 am

So so sad to see PDCC gone. Love and admiration to all who worked and helped out there! MR. Shaw is an amazing man! He and his family made it possible for broken families like mine to have some fun and normalcy along with a christian upbringing and a little good old fashion discipline.thank you for your countless years of wonderful service! You will all be missed!

Like this comment
Posted by centerstaff
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

You are welcome,thank you also.

1 person likes this
Posted by Janelle
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Peninsula Day Care was truly the highlight of my childhood. THANK YOU

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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