Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Childrens House celebrates 40 years of quality daycare

Four decades old serving the young

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BREWSTER – Forty years ago, Mary Johnson had an idea: Establish a day care center that would be a positive influence in the Brewster community for children and their families. Two decades later, the Childrens House, at 715 S. Bridge Street, remains an anchor on Bridge Street where her son, Keith Johnson carries on the mission of providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for youngsters from toddlers through 12-years of age.
After four decades of child care, many of Johnson’s young clients are grown with families of their own and still patronize her business for their own children.
Mary Johnson founded Childrens House in 1978 when Keith was 14 years old and a student at Brewster High School.
“I had a lot of time on my hands after school and would drop in and help out with various chores,” Keith said, probably little knowing that one day he might be running the place himself.
That day came almost 20 years ago when Mary decided she was ready to hand over management of Childrens House to the next generation.
It was Oct. 1, 1999 and I was a Spanish teacher in Omak,” recalled Keith, who had also spent a couple of years teaching in Alaska.
Johnson said that prior to taking over the business his mother had purchased a home just north of Childrens House and that was converted into use for the school age program. The acquisition gave Childrens House lots of extra space, enough to sublet a portion of the building to a hair salon after city officials granted authorization for the use.
“The dynamics of the community have changed with other facilities opening that serve children,” said Johnson referring to such developments as the nearby Brewster Boys and Girls Club.
Childrens House caters to children both before and after school but “we are pretty seasonal,” said Johnson. “We get most of our school kids in the summer time.”
Demand can also fluctuate with the weather.
“A lot of our parents work in the orchards,” said Johnson, “so if it rains we may not see as many kids because more of the parents are at home that day.”
Childrens House is currently licensed to accommodate 45 youngsters and the business is regulated by the state Department of Early Learning.
“We are involved in the Early Achievers program,” said Johnson. “It is required of all child care centers and involves a rating system for each facility.”
Johnson said that as with all new programs that are a work in progress there are challenges that come with the learning curve.
“We believe in giving kids lots of opportunities to learn,” said Johnson, “We have cooking projects, science projects, grow our own vegetables and have a great yard.”
Johnson said a strong feature of Childrens House is the highly experienced staff with years of teaching experience that work at the facility.
“All of my full-time people have been here 10 years or more,” said Johnson who also employs some part-time staff.
School-age children are also escorted to and from the Brewster schools every day
As for his own family, Johnson is married with two grown children of his own. Wife Sue works for a college-bound scholarship program through the state. Son, Kyle is an IT specialist who majored in computer science and now works for Hagen Foods in Bellingham.
Daughter Claire owns her own photography business, Claire Renee Photography, and is currently living in Alaska.
A prominent fixture in the parking area in front of Childrens House is a small, free-standing, two-shelf, blue weatherproof bookcase with adjacent sitting bench that Mary Johnson installed in 2014. It’s part of the Little Free Library (No. 2512) network and is one of thousands that have been installed around the world where readers are invited to “Take a book. Return a book.”
For more information about Children House, check out its Facebook site, email childcare@ frontier.com, or call (509) 689-3231.
 

brewster, Children House, daycare

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