Child care is often seen as hard to come by in Juneau. Barb Davison recognized the need and decided to do her part to help.
After almost a year of preparation, Tiny Treasures Child Care is getting ready to open its doors at the former Salvation Army building at 538 W. Willoughby Ave.
“I’ve seen the need for more child care services in the downtown area,” Davison said. “I could have gone to the Valley but chose here because it seems like there’s more of a demand.”
The new child care place, which is due to open as a group home, is designed for children ages 6 weeks old to 12 years. Davison said there are currently 12 children signed up, the maximum capacity allowed by group home certification. She anticipates getting the final certification in time for the Monday opening. Child care certifications are overseen by the Department of Health and Social Services.
Group home certification also dictates that only five of those 12 children can be under 30 months old.
She is also working on the next step, which is seeking Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. CDA will allow more children to join if the facility goes from group home to a center. Centers set the number of allowed children from variables including space and staff. Davison plans on leasing the space upstairs if Tiny Treasures becomes a center.
In the meantime, Tiny Treasures will accommodate its kids in both playing and learning, as the staff will teach a reading program for infants and younger toddlers, plus help the older kids with their schoolwork.
“My goal is to get them ready for school and help teach them the proper way for manners,” Davison said.
She noted the staff consists of six paid employees, counting herself, and three volunteers. She said this size staff helps distinguish Tiny Treasures in providing one teacher for every one to two children.
“I always wanted to be something different from other facilities and this is one way I can do it.”
She added all staff members complete first aid and CPR training, as well as a background check and fingerprinting, before starting work. She added that she wants all staff members to get CDA credentials as well.
Upon opening, the kids will bring sack lunches while the facility offers healthy snacks. Davison said twice daily meals will start being offered in 30 days.
Besides play and learning things, Davison is proud to feature a special “Thank You Tree” as part of the facility. The wall-covering decoration names numerous people and companies that helped get Tiny Treasures up and running. Among these names are her husband Larry Davison and granddaughter Lily Davison. Other names include co-owners of the building, Bruce Abel and Peter Jurasz, as well as companies like Jack’s Plumbing and Juneau Electric.
“If it wasn’t for these people in general, I would not be here today,” she said.
Tiny Treasures will start its first day Monday with a special grand opening for the VIPs noted on the “Thank You Tree” from noon-4 p.m. April 30. There will be a public grand opening at that same time on May 7.
For more information on Tiny Treasures, call 523-9020.
Those in the Association for the Education of Young Children-Southeast Alaska applaud the effort, as they agree there are not enough child care services available in Juneau.
“The openings for children are almost at an all-time low in licensed child care, and we encourage anyone who might be interested in starting a child care program to give us a call. We’re here to help,” AEYC-SEA Executive Director Joy Lyon said.
“I think that probably the community at large is excited that a new facility is opening because the need is so great,” said Family Services Coordinator Nikki Morris.
In March, Juneau had eight centers, six group homes, 20 licensed homes and three approved homes, according to AEYC-SEA. These facilities had a combined capacity for 575 children with 20 total vacancies available that month. There were no vacancies in group homes or approved homes.
AEYC-SEA keeps databases of different child care programs and works with families to find programs that match their needs and can be reached at 789-1235.
• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.