Guadalupe Center starts building new day care

The Guadalupe Center, dedicated to providing a safe, educational space for children in Immokalee, just started construction on a new day care.

One mom, Maria Mendoza, says this center has been life-changing. Her husband lives in Mexico, so she’s raising her sons alone. Mendoza is thankful to have work at the same center her youngest son, Ian, attends.

“It’s been hard,” Mendoza said. “They haven’t seen him in over a year now.”

Many families in Immokalee come from humble means, which is why this six-month-old center is imperative, and they’re building another one down the street.

“Some of these families… most of them work in agriculture or are single parents,” Mendoza said.

“Our waiting list kept increasing, and when we got over 300 children who needed to get into our center, we realized there was a need,” said Guadalupe Center CEO Dawn Montecalvo.

Montecalvo made it her mission to provide an affordable, safe space specifically for children up to 3 years old.

“It’s a nationwide issue, it’s not just here in Immokalee,” Montecalvo said.

It comes down to cost: The teacher-to-child ratio is far lower with babies and toddlers, and there isn’t as much federal funding, so parents absorb the cost.

According to, the average weekly cost for day care is $215. Guadalupe’s average is $39 per week. Making childcare accessible at that age helps these children for life.

“It’s everything I think every parent wants for their child, to know that they’re in a place where they’re learning, where they’re safe,” Mendoza said.

That new center will open in one year.  Part of the reason the Guadalupe Center can offer childcare at such an affordable cost is because of generous donors.  Thursday, WINK News anchor Lindsey Sablan is going to emcee their virtual fundraiser “Circtacular.”

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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