The former location of A Buck or Two plus has been sold to Helping Hands Day Care, a family owned business operating seven day care centres in the Durham region.
They plan to open a new facility in the building on Tupper Street. The relief from young families struggling to find day care in the area is almost audible.
As one of the original charges in his mother’s day care business, Ryan Eickmeier has come full circle, and now serves as Chief Executive Officer for Helping Hands Day Care Centres. Founded in 1989 in Ajax, (now you know how old he is), the business was launched by his mother Nancy who opened the first facility to serve 45 children. The following year, the business expanded to include a Pickering branch and eventually expanded to seven locations in the Durham region where day care programs are offered year round to children from newborn to 12 years old.
The Millbrook Centre is the first new facility to open in six years, and the first outside Durham Region. The business was at a turning point. With a stable staff and consistent stream of clients, the business ran quite smoothly, but after thirty years, its founder was looking for a succession plan. After doing his own thing in several other businesses and professional organizations, Ryan was ready to take a leadership role in the family business. Having fresh talent at the helm made the decision to expand easy.
The organization establishes a warm and loving environment using positive reinforcement and encouragement delivered by caring, qualified staff that encourages the children in their care to develop self-esteem, pride, respect and an understanding of themselves and others. All educators, volunteers and placement students adhere to the organization’s core values of caring, honesty, inclusiveness, respect and responsibility. to develop a climate where every child has a sense of belonging and develops as an active, engaged learner with a sense of self, health and well-being. Educators support children in developing strategies to remain calm and to regulate their emotions while recognizing the effects of their actions on others.
The Millbrook facility will focus on younger clients. With a planned capacity for 92 children, the space will be designer to accommodate ten infants, twenty toddlers, thirty-two preschoolers and twenty kindergarten students. At capacity, they expect to have a staff of nineteen. To ensure a smooth opening and consistent culture in the new location, it will be led by a current employee who is familiar with the organization’s way of doing business.
Designs for the renovations are underway and largely dictated by legislation which outlines details such as play activity, rest and eating area requirements. The most obvious change from the exterior will be more windows to bring in more natural light and a new, 2400 square foot fenced outdoor playground with a climbing structure and room for active play. Furniture, equipment and toy purchases will proceed with existing suppliers but the organization will seek local help for the renovation work.
Helping Hands uses technology to ensure parents are updated about the activities of their children using an app called HiMama which provide real time photos and updates. Staff also prepare daily reports summarizing the day’s events for each child to ensure families understand how their young children spend their days.
Apparently word about the new venture travelled quickly amongst parents, as many have already contacted the organization to get their children on the roster. If things go according to plan, parents won’t have long to wait. Eickmeier hopes to celebrate the centre’s grand opening in June. The schedule sounds a bit ambitious, but whenever the doors open, the organization will certainly receive a warm welcome. KG