The BCCA was established in December 1998, to create a child care center at Belmont Park, which has the biggest population of backstretch workers of the three New York Racing Authority (NYRA) tracks. The purpose of The BCCA was to coordinate the building of the center, select an independent, licensed child care provider to operate the center, and undertake fundraising efforts to both initiate and ensure the continued operation of the center. While The BCCA does not actually operate the child care center, it provides backstretch families with access to a high quality, state-of-the-art center that will enhance the emotional, social and educational development of their children.
In 2002, Michael Dubb, chairman of The BCCA Board, built Anna House and donated it to The BCCA to serve the families of the backstretch. The center was named Anna House in appreciation of a $1 million pledge from Thoroughbred owners Laura and Eugene Melnyk, whose daughter Anna was then two years old. In January 2010, Michael Dubb generously offered to add two extensions to Anna House to meet the needs of our families. The playground area is named the Lemon Drop Kid Playground in honor of donors Jeanne Vance and Laddie Dance’s 1999 Belmont Stakes winner.
Anna House opened its doors on January 1, 2003. With the location at Gate 6 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, New York, it is accessible to the backstretch employees at both Belmont and Aqueduct racetracks. The majority of the backstretch employees are immigrants, struggling to make a living and support their families. Anna House was created to care for children from the age of six weeks to six years while their parents care for the horses, providing a safe alternative to the sometimes illegal and dangerous home child care to which backstretch families sometimes resorted. Backstretch families require affordable child care that is available before dawn, and before the creation of Anna House, their options were few.
In December 2006, Gretchen and Roy Jackson created the Lael Scholarship Fund to ensure that Anna House would always have sufficient funds to continue to provide early childhood education to the children. The Jacksons have made a generous contribution to the fund every year since 2006.
Anna House is open from 5 AM to 1 PM, seven days a week, to accommodate the racetrack employees and their work schedule. Anna House is open every day of the year.