With the few staff members we had left, we realized that in order to continue to serve our community, we had to drastically change gears. We worked with PBS and the Medford School District to put together 14 episodes of distance learning content, we recorded countless hours of material on our own, all free to anyone and everyone, and we made and distributed over 2800 “Kid Time From Home Kits”, which allowed families to participate in play-based learning activities, all free of charge to the community.
We’ve continued that effort over the course of the last year, while offering emergency childcare services for frontline workers and families in need. This also included school-age childcare for those in distance learning and for those who lost their homes as a result of the urban wildfires in September. We provided services at satellite campuses, in collaboration with local schools and the Rogue Valley Family YMCA, in response to the community crisis.
More than half of the children’s museums across the country have or are expected to permanently close. Here in Oregon, the Portland Children’s Museum, the largest children’s museum in the state and 6th oldest in the country, closed in June of 2021 after 75 years of serving their community. We have been working to avoid that fate.
Our challenge, above all else, has been that we are building an entirely new facility, competing for contractors during the worst fire devastation in our history, renovating a century-old building to meet new COVID protocols, and raising the $9.5M necessary to do so - at a time when most similar organizations are struggling just to reopen their original facilities.
As a nonprofit offering a variety of services, we are bound to the regulations of multiple licensing and governing entities. We must follow local, state, and federal guidance for all the different elements of our operations, including our children's museum, childcare facility, and youth program operations. We are intent on protecting the health and safety of all who visit while also making your visit enjoyable, without being overly complicated or with the feeling of being policed by too many rules.
With all of our challenges and hurdles, our goal is to be open in Fall of 2021. Although construction has currently overtaken our facility, we’re striving to host other Kid Time activities, such as outdoor programs and more take-home play kits.
The good news is that we are making tremendous progress - the construction of our interior is well underway and it is looking incredible! From our new STEAM exhibits to our firewatch lookout, we have some truly exciting things coming your way. Not to mention, we start construction on our new outdoor space this month! It’s going to be AMAZING!
We miss serving children - that’s what we do! We want to be back in operation. Please know we have been working incredibly hard to be sure that Kid Time remains a fixture in Southern Oregon and that we open as soon as possible. This has been the most difficult time of my career, and for all of us at Kid Time. There were moments that we were unsure if we would be able to open again. But we will. It may take us a little extra time than initially planned for, but we will open. And once we’re open, it will be a wonderful place, with all new exhibits, an incredible outdoor adventure space, a maker space full of new creative art and tinker ideas, and so much more!
In the meantime, all memberships have been paused. We know how much you value your play at our facility, and you will not lose a moment of it.
We want to thank all who have helped make this possible: The Oregon Community Foundation, The City of Medford, The State of Oregon, The Round House Foundation, The Olsrud Family, Mercy Flights, The Carpenter Foundation, The Ben B Cheney Foundation, The Collins Foundation, The Robert & Frances Chaney Foundation, Southern Oregon Pediatrics, Medford Women’s Clinic, JB Steel, Outlier Construction, Lyn Hennion, The Taylor Family Foundation and many more.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thank you for your patience and understanding,
Sunny Spicer (she/her)
Kid Time Children's Museum
413 West Main Street
Medford, OR 97501
Dear Kid Time Community,
As Oregon starts opening up, many of you are wondering what the status of our opening is. I wanted to take a moment and discuss our arduous journey and challenges we’ve faced over the past year or so. I understand that our members can’t wait to come back to our museum, and please know, we can’t wait to have you!
When the pandemic first hit, it was at a critical juncture for our organization. We were just on the cusp of securing the majority of the funding needed to complete the construction of our new facility. Within the course of two weeks, we had to close our facility and lost nearly all of our funding - for operating and for our building project. The majority of the staff was laid off. And the former Kid Time facility was dismantled.