At Washburn daycare,

17 years ago
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By Kathy McCarty  

Staff Writer

    WASHBURN – A new business in town will be catering to a rather youthful customer base, with service focused on the pre-K through fifth grade age level.
    Kolbie Churchill, owner of Kids Count daycare on Porter Street, had been considering expanding her business for some time but when another daycare opted to close, she decided to open a second daycare sooner than planned.
    “I had planned to open by fall, offering service at a new site for older children. But since Tiny Dreamers announced plans to close, I decided to move up plans and open before summer,” said Churchill. “Initially I’d planned to open by fall, but with the other daycare closing and people asking if I had vacancies, I talked with my husband, Andy, and we decided to go for it. We’ll be opening in June.”
    With the help of money obtained through a grant, Churchill was able to find and renovate a space in town.
    “We’ll be in the old ACAP building, just around the corner from the library,” said Churchill.
    Churchill said her plans are to keep younger children at Kids Kount on Porter Street, with older children attending at the new business called Big Kids Kount Two.
    Serving as the director of both facilities, Churchill will have seven to 10 staff between the two sites.
    “I’ll have a head teacher at both locations and group leaders. Billie Jo (Bourgoine) Deschene, whom I’ve known since third grade, will stay on as the head of Kids Kount. We’ve worked together over the years and she’s wonderful with the kids,” said Churchill. “My cousin, Hillery Towle, will be head teacher at the new facility.”
    The need for more daycare services is a growing problem in many communities. When Tiny Dreamers announced it was closing, Churchill began receiving inquiries about openings. But limitations on a home-based daycare prevented her from expanded services at Kids Kount.
    “At Kids Count, my license only allows 12 at a time. It’s getting too hard to juggle schedules with the home center. The new location will allow me to separate and focus on the needs of a particular age group,” said Churchill.
    Licensed for 20, Big Kids Kount Two will have four staff members on duty at all times and offer a variety of activities according to age and ability.
    Churchill credits family support – hers and those of the kids she watches – for being able to open a second business.
    “I have a terrific husband, wonderful parents – mine and the parents of the children I watch – and wonderful luck. Everything’s just fallen into place and I’m looking forward to opening the new site,” said Churchill.
    In business for four years, Churchill has confidence in her staff and their abilities.
    “Both head teachers have tons of experience. Hillery attended UMPI. Activities at each location are geared toward a child’s age,” she said.
    Churchill has been working with the Washburn Recreation Department, located just feet away from her new business.
    “Marcie (Barbarula, the Rec Department director) has been wonderful. We both have the same goal – giving kids a safe, fun environment when they’re away from home,” said Churchill.
    Churchill said its good to have her own business and she enjoys the time with the children.
    “They’re (the kids) so bright and entertaining. They see things differently. They’re such fun,” said Churchill.
    Big Kids Kount Two will be set up similar to other pre-school systems.
    “We’ll do like pre-school in the morning, with a letter of the week, have themes and lesson plans. But it’s not all work. Activities will be designed with fun in mind as well,” said Churchill. “We want this to be a place the kids enjoy, a place they can learn at and have fun at the same time. We’ll do a lot of different activities.”
    Current hours at Kids Kount are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Hours at Big Kids will be from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact 455-8145. Rates depend on the number of hours each child attends the respective facility.
    “I’m really quite excited about opening. I’m looking forward to it,” said Churchill.