Theodora sits in a rocking chair with two daughters

The Judy Ohm Scholarship honors a late, longtime director of Wilder’s Child Development Center with support for the whole family


When Theodora needed childcare for her daughter, Heavenly, she knew it would be expensive. She planned to clean more houses each week to cover the cost.

“I thought I could afford it,” she says. “But paying for daycare stressed me more than paying my mortgage,” she said.

To help ease the burden, Theodora applied for childcare assistance through the county. Caseworkers told her it could take weeks for her application to be reviewed. In the meantime, she worried she would have to stop taking her daughter, 2, to the Wilder Child Development Center, a place where the toddler was happy and thriving.

“I was faced with some tough decisions, so I asked if there was any additional help,” Theodora said.

The answer: yes.

Temporary scholarships help families pay tuition and reduce financial stress for families

The Wilder Child Development Center established a scholarship fund in memory of its previous director, Judy Ohm, who passed away in 2020. To honor Judy's legacy, the center offers scholarships for up to three months to eligible families who need a temporary boost to cover all or some of their childcare tuition. The program extends the Child Development Center’s priority to not only offer high quality childcare, but to support the entire family.

“It’s one less stress for parents,” says Angie Clair, current director of the Child Development Center. “This allows them to do what they need to do to keep their family running.”

Theodora was eligible for a partial scholarship through CDC. When she got the news, she almost cried. Her county assistance was approved three weeks later, but for that period of time the support made a big difference in her family’s life.

“I could buy groceries and things the kids need for winter,” she says. “But mostly, I had one less thing to worry about.” 



(The Judy Ohm Scholarship) is one less stress for parents. This allows them to do what they need to do to keep their family running.

Angie Clair, director of the Child Development Center

Judy Ohm believed in meeting families where they are 

The late Judy Ohm, former director of the Wilder Child Development Center
Judy Ohm

Judy Ohm was a passionate advocate for children and families throughout her 40-year tenure at Wilder. She served as the director of the Child Development Center for 17 of those years. She established two fundamental beliefs that continue to inform the center’s practices today: every family is doing the best they can at the moment and every child’s social and emotional needs must be met before academic learning can happen.

“She had a strong belief in meeting families where they were at,” Angie says. 

Chelsey Long, education coordinator at the center, says Judy empowered her to be both a confident parent and a teacher. She encouraged Chelsey and assured her that she had the knowledge she needed to be successful. “She believed in people,” Chelsey says. “She believed in me.”

The scholarship in Judy's name honors this legacy. It demonstrates that small investments in early child education pay big dividends by providing building blocks for not only the child, but for their families and communities.

Scholarships help families meet the challenges of paying for child care 

Angie Clair, director of the Wilder Child Development Center
Angie Clair

This is the first year the center has been able to offer the scholarship. So far, four families have been helped by the fund, but more could benefit, Angie says.

The challenges to paying for childcare are great. Some families earn too much money to qualify for county assistance, but still struggle to pay the high costs for childcare. Some families don’t work fulltime and may be challenged to pay tuition consistently. Other families do fine until a medical crisis strikes and they have to cover copays.

In addition, some families – like Theodora – will qualify for county assistance but an overwhelmed system means that families may wait weeks for that approval. In the meantime, they try to pay out of pocket or pull their children out of childcare until the assistance comes through. That, however, can cause additional stress.

“We’ve known families who lost jobs because they didn’t have quality childcare,” Angie says. “It can be a detrimental wait.”

Scholarships help support the whole family 

Chelsey Long, education coordinator at the Wilder Child Development Center
Chelsey Long

The scholarship mirrors Wilder’s philosophy that children do well when their parents and guardians do well. “If a parent is concerned about housing and clothes, they can’t read to their child or cook healthy meals,” Chelsey says. “It’s important we care for the whole family.”

The Child Development Center connects families to other Wilder services that may support them, including mental health services and housing assistance.

Theodora has had three children attend the Wilder Child Development Center. She found the center when she was a single mother looking for help to watch her son, now 12, while she worked and went to school. The center was a convenient choice because it was near her home.

Since then, Theodora has founded her own cleaning business. She has added two daughters to her family. Her older daughter, now 8, also went to Wilder.

“They helped her become what she is,” Theodora says. “They gave her a good foundation, so it was pretty easy when my husband taught her how to read. She picked it up easily.”

What Theodora loves most about Wilder Child Development Center is that she and her children always feels welcome and comfortable. “I feel like I’m with family there,” she says. “It feels like our second home.”

If a parent is concerned about housing and clothes, they can’t read to their child or cook healthy meals. It’s important we care for the whole family.

Chelsey Long, education coordinator, Wilder Child Development Center

Support the Child Development Center

Your generosity helps provide quality learning, child care and community support for children and their families. 

Ddesignate your gift to the Child Development Center or the Judy Ohm Scholarship.