Alyssa Shaw-Letourneau was a teacher about to begin working on her second degree when she ran into a slight glitch; there were no childcare openings available. So what was she to do with her youngest child? Her improbable response was to open up her own daycare to fulfill the demand for good quality childcare required within the City.
The mother of four has her Bachelor degree in Elementary Education and thought it all made sense. She became curious about business and started attending the Community Futures Chinook Challenge sessions to learn about business plan development and opportunities for financial support. The sessions started the ball rolling and it never stopped. “The Staff at Community Futures were great to work with” Alyssa explains, “They answered my questions, supported me as I worked my way through the learning process.”
And there was a lot to learn about the business side of owning a daycare. Child care licensing, government regulations, health codes, building inspections and the list continued. Alyssa thought that operating a daycare would be a lot like teaching, but it felt more like taking on the role of a school superintendent as she wrote policies, developed budgets, retained staff, made projections, generated her marketing strategy plus created a healthy menu of hot lunches with a morning and afternoon snack for the children in her care.
Once a viable location was found the business became a community affair. Parents and staff previewed the location, offered suggestions, and helped with moving and set-up. Her two teenage children also helped paint, clean and move furniture into the new location. “We have all made contributions to make this business a success,” Alyssa proudly states.
In May 2013, Curious Owl Daycare opened its doors at 1206 - 3 Avenue South, to provide childcare for 38 children while the parents go to work. The daycare employs six full time childcare workers and a part-time cook. The children range in age from 12 months to five years.
Alyssa explains, “I saw the need and it became the focus. I wanted to create a childcare experience like I would want for my own children. I wanted a clean facility with professional staff. I wanted to provide age appropriate development opportunities for the children and I wanted to focus on literacy so I incorporated a lot of reading, singing and language skills into the daily program. “
Alyssa is grateful for the opportunity to work with Community Futures Lethbridge Region as she transitioned from teacher to entrepreneur.
“I have no regrets; I enjoy playing with the children and fostering their creativity. We build block towers; play with flubber, sing, read, and laugh. It’s a busy place, but when nap time comes around things are calm and peaceful.”
Alyssa smiles with satisfaction as she reflects on the journey she has begun. The only thing she is sure of at this stage of the game is “it’s never the same day twice.”