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Getting to Salt Lake City in 1894 was a lot easier than it was in 1847, but many families arrived having spent all they had, requiring language or medical assistance, or having lost a parent en route.

Seeing children wandering Salt Lake streets during the day, Emma K. McVicker gathered some friends and created the Free Kindergarten Association to help children get back on track. Growing over the past 111 years into Neighborhood House, Salt Lake's first day-care facility is still providing.

Located in Glendale, Neighborhood House is "a different kind of day care," says director Jacob Brace. "This isn't just a couple of your kids at your neighbor's house. We're trying to do what Head Start and preschools are doing."

Working with children ages 2 through 12 from every segment of the community, the staff helps young clients with letter and object recognition, basic safety and health care, reading comprehension and social interaction so they can succeed in public school.

Parents can drop off children as early as 6:30 a.m. and pick them up as late as 5:30 p.m. Neighborhood House gets the kids to school and returns them to the center afterwards. When classes are not in session, extended programs that include breakfast and lunch are available.

For working parents, it's a valuable resource and a chance to be more involved with their child because staff members talk to parents almost every day about the successes and struggles of being a kid.

When Brace joined the facility this year, he wanted to know why his workers chose Neighborhood House as their place of employment. He was amazed to learn that 90 percent of the employees had a personal connection. "They were clients, they have children who are clients or had a relative whose child was a client," he said.

In 1978, Neighborhood House put their experience toward a new goal - providing for childlike needs with adult dignity. For people born with disabilities, people who've suffered cerebral trauma or those who have simply been hit by the normal effects of aging, the center "enables families to have a respite from members who need extra care," says Brace.

Kathie Williams has worked in the Riverside adult-care building for 24 years. Now that center's administrator, she comes back every day because of "the people and their families. I've seen it help many, many people through the years."

Adult clients enjoy social interaction with their peers, entertainment (including weekly visits from the children clients), crafts, reading rooms, nap rooms and multi-purpose rooms complete with a barber-salon chair. Though Neighborhood House is not licensed for medical care, there is a therapy room; families can arrange convenient professional visits so that their relatives can spend evenings and weekends with their family, not running to appointments.

It is an expensive undertaking, more so with the addition of a second adult care facility in Cottonwood. An income-based sliding fee scale for clients covers about one-third of operational costs and community generosity provides the rest.

l Neighborhood House is located at 1050 W. 500 South in Salt Lake City and can be reached at 801-363-4589.

l Riverside Adult Care, 423 S. 1100 West in Salt lake City, can be reached at 801-363-4593; and Cottonwood Adult Care, 1580 E. Vine (6100 South) in Murray can be reached at 801-277-3264.

l Visit Neighborhood House on line at

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