New daycare fills former Jean Jacques Gallery space in Mt. Airy

Fresh paint and a brightly colored banner announce that Little Stars Education Nation has taken up residence in the heart of Mt. Airy’s commercial corridor. The daycare, located at 7118 Germantown Avenue, will occupy a retail space which has been vacant for the past year and a half. The former Jean Jacques Gallery left the location in January 2011.

“We’re putting on the finishing touches,” said owner Harold Allen. Allen and his wife, Cherise plan to open the childcare center next week. A final inspection of the facility will occur Friday (7/20).

Allen confirmed that five children have already been enrolled. Little Stars will provide daycare to children ages infant through five years, with a maximum enrollment of 15 kids. Hours for the facility will initially be open six days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Allen stated that by August, Little Stars will begin offering 24 hour daycare to accommodate the needs of parents who work late shifts, such as those in the healthcare field.

Parents who enroll their children at Little Stars can expect a Montessori method education for a portion of the day. Allen said the daycare center will also feature Spanish lessons. Exercise activities will take place in the property’s grassy rear yard as well as weekly ex’curs ions to Lovett Park and the Mt. Airy Playground. The daycare will be staffed by two teachers and two childcare aides on a rotating basis.

Tuition costs vary depending on whether a child is enrolled full-time or part-time, the child’s age and whether parents receive a childcare subsidy. Allen said scholarships are available for those who do not qualify for a subsidy but have financial need.

The Allens began Little Stars with licensed daycare service in their three story East Oak Lane duplex. The children they cared for there have since grown and are in school. The move to Mt. Airy came as a result of a desire to expand their business. Allen noted that he and his wife like the neighborhood, particularly its security. “Mt. Airy has great people. It’s an all-around great location,” he remarked.

Eventually, the couple hope to build a Little Stars daycare franchise. “This is the first of many more to come,” Allen asserted.

Little Stars joins 21 other preschool and daycare facilities in the neighborhood, all but one with considerably larger capacity. There are also 15 home-based childcare businesses in Mt. Airy, most with very limited capacity (six children). Not counting Little Stars, a total of 1535 daycare seats are currently available in Mt. Airy which has (according to the 2010 census) 1554 children under the age of five years.

Little Stars Education Nation will be hosting an open house on August 3 at 4 p.m.

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