Finding quality child care is a challenge for hundreds of families in the Grand Traverse region. Dan and Brittini Fuller of Pathways Preschool are working hard to help fill that void, and with financial assistance from Venture North have been able to expand their service to a new child care center on the east side of Traverse City.
The Fullers recently relocated their child care operation from their home to a former labor hall on Rose Street. They tapped a $50,000 loan from Venture North’s USDA loan program to help convert the former social hall into a modern child care/preschool facility that can serve up to three dozen children up to age 5. Venture North Executive Director Laura Galbraith said it’s an appropriate financing deal for the organization as the co-host of the Traverse Bay Great Start Collaborative, which is working on early childhood development initiatives throughout the area.
Pathways Preschool is built around an interdisciplinary field known as interpersonal neurobiology, which stresses the importance of positive, healthy relationships in early child development. It’s a model that focuses on the interactions among children in child care, and more families were seeking out the Fullers for their services.
The move to their new facility on Rose Street not only helped them serve more families, but also expand the services they could provide. Brittini said at their home they were able to provide child care for children ages 2 through 5. But the new facility has space for an infant room, a toddler room and a pre-school room.
“Now we can provide continuity of care,” she said. “From 12 weeks old up to five years, we can care for the same child.”
Dan Fuller said the Venture North financing helped the couple create the space they needed to offer quality child care service.
“The financing provided us the flexibility that we wanted,” he said. “We’re really able to open our doors with the level of quality that we were comfortable with.”
The Fullers work every day at Pathways Preschool. They have five other staff members and plan to hire two more. Pathway families have also donated dozens of volunteer hours to help with the building, including converting a formal parking lot into an outdoor play area.
“Our families have been great,” he said. “They’ve been very impressed with the quality of the building.”
The Fullers are excited to be able to expand a service that’s in demand for working families that will also provide long-term benefits to the region.
“We really look at it as a long-term investment in the community,” he said. “Our mantra is not what we do, it’s how we do it.”
-By Bill O’Brien