THUNDER BAY – When the pandemic hit, Andrea Mulligan decided to open a small daycare facility to help her staff at Sleeping Giant Brewery in need of child-care services.
Little did she know that a year or so later she’d be opening her second day-care centre, helping Thunder Bay parents faced with a perennial struggle in the city, where some daycares experience wait lists of 500 children or more.
“This is a massive socio-economic crisis—parents are struggling, some fearing they won’t be able to go back to work. Sleeping Giant Child Care Centre wants to be a part of the solution and provide a new and unique child-care opportunity for families,” Mulligan said.
Her first centre, located at the brewery, has since relocated to a larger building nearby. The second is located at 627 Grey St., a refurbished former daycare that includes an open kitchen concept and Montessori-inspired programming, which encourages rigorous, self-motivated growth.
“It was a struggle,” Mulligan said. “There were no options for people that needed it and they’re really struggling. COVID-19 put some severe limitations on daycare. In talking to other directors of facilities, some people are seeing up to 500 people on their wait lists and at one point in time it was up to 800.
“At least we’re seeing a little bit of a release, but there’s definitely a need, which is why we’re anticipating that we want in the new year to look at opening another site. And we’re looking at a brand new facility in 2023.”
Knowledge, understanding and respect are the three keys to the Sleeping Giant Child Care Centre’s philosophy, said manager Chloe Chase.
“We provide a home away from home for children. Our team of educators works to develop a collaborative relationship with our families in a nurturing and uplifting atmosphere. Programming recognizes that each child learns at a different pace and allows that growth to take place. It is designed so that learning, effort and initiative are all associated with joy, discovery and success during the most formative years of life,” Chase said.
Spots are still available, but filling up fast. The centres accept children aged six months to six years.