Julie Anne MacKinnon is the wife of a professional hockey scout who travels more than 150 days a year. When Dan’s career brought the two homegrown Canadians to the United States in 1998, the couple and their young family bounced from Ohio to Massachusetts, Ontario to Tennessee before finally settling in Toledo.
Like many “transplants,” she found herself in unfamiliar cities without friends or family to offer support with the care of her two young children.
She looked into daycare options, but was disappointed with what was available. Most offered inflexible days and hours and the cost were high.
“The traditional daycare model was a huge turn off for me,” Mrs. MacKinnon says. “I was exposed to the ‘drop-in’ model when we lived in Tennessee, so Dan and I took the idea and ran with it.”
She and her husband Dan did the demographic research needed to see if a flexible drop-in childcare model would work and took the leap of faith in September 2002 when they opened their first Kidz Watch Center in Sylvania.
Their business model worked, and a second center opened in Perrysburg in 2003. Another location is available in the Holland-Springfield area.
The newest Kidz Watch location opened its doors in Oregon last month at 842 S. Wheeling in Oregon, across from St. Charles Mercy Hospital.
Combining drop-in hourly childcare and flexible full-time care for children 12 weeks to 12 years, the Kidz Watch concept is unlike any other child care operation in the Toledo area.
The staff is CPR and first-aid certified, Mrs. MacKinnon said. To ensure the safety of the children they watch, Kidz Watch conducts FBI/fingerprint and background checks on prospective staff. Each center is equipped with a locked door and electronic by pass so that strangers to Kidz Watch cannot gain access.
Each center has been designed to capture the imaginations of the children they serve. Colorful murals of Renaissance castles, dragons and jesters adorn the walls. The space is divided into separate play areas where children of different ages can learn, play or rest.
The new Oregon location includes a common kitchen shared by the full-time and flexible drop-in areas.
On the full-time care side, Kidz Watch employees provide active learning to help educate and inspire the children they care for throughout the day.
“As an elementary teacher, it was important for me to make sure that we offered some early childhood curriculum in our full-time care areas,” Mrs. MacKinnon said. “Children develop important social skills as well as basic learning methods through early childhood development activities while they are in our full-time program.
“We have carefully structured a free-play environment as an integral part of our child care program,” she said. “Our caregivers are trained to direct and encourage children to explore different activities.”
Children on the drop-in care side are given the freedom to choose how they spend their time, Mrs. MacKinnon said, adding that activities available include arts and crafts, reading books, role play in costumes, video games, computer software, and play structures.
Other Kidz Watch amenities include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack menus along with an infant area, Saturday night pajama party and outdoor play area.
Hours of operation at all centers are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays 8 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 9 a.m. to midnight and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. In addition, upon request, Kidz Watch may open as early 6:30 a.m. and stay open as late as midnight Monday through Thursday.
For more information, visit the Kidz Watch Web site, kidzwatch.net or call Oregon-Kidz Watch Manager, Kate Hoffmann at 419-697-2600.
The newest Kidz Watch location, which offers drop-in hourly childcare and flexible full-time care for children 12 weeks to 12 years, is open Oregon at 842 S. Wheeling in Oregon, across from St. Charles Mercy Hospital.