by Dave Warner

A new childcare center has opened at 45 Furnace Street in Little Falls, just when it is most needed. The Little Hearn Playskool Childcare Center had a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday before their first day in business.

Owner Janal Hearn said that it’s a three-room center, hosting 32 children right now and that they have an infant, toddler, and pre-school room in the facility. “All of our teachers are certified to teach in all of the rooms.”

She said that they are running just like a school with learning time and playtime. “We work on cognitive and social skills during the different periods.”

Hearn was familiar with the facility because she had been a Head Start teacher at the building in the past. She said that while there, she realized that the whole community needed childcare, not just one segment of it. “I started the business out of my home three years ago providing services to sixteen families.”

She decided to go back to school and pursue her degree. “An opportunity opened for using this building, and we just kind of took one step at a time to see what would happen, and here we are.”

Mayor Mark Blask was at the ribbon-cutting and stated, “We definitely need daycare in Little Falls and specifically quality daycare, and that’s what we have here. I’m so excited to welcome Janal to the City. It’s a beautiful building and a great spot. They’re going to be super busy and if they need anything from the City of Little Falls, we’re here for them.”

Michelle Hummel with the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce helped cut the ribbon and said, “I think this is amazing and something our community needs. They’ve done a great job. I’ve gone through and I’m impressed with the way the place looks. It’s adorable. The fact that they can take care of infants is amazing. It’s all good and we all need some good right now.”

The YMCA had purchased the building several years ago from Holy Family Parish and Tony DeLuca said the Albany Diocese wanted to make sure that the building would be used for community service projects.

“After the purchase, we partnered with Mohawk Community Action and put the Head Start program there, then worked with Catholic Charities and they put their thrift store in there. Then we moved our Little Falls Food Pantry into the facility. It was a nice network of community services that were presented,” he stated.

A couple of years ago, Head Start didn’t have the registration to continue the program in Little Falls, so they had ended their services. “It left a big void in preschool services and we had been looking for a way to provide preschool and childcare services again,” said DeLuca.

He says that Hearn came along and that her idea seemed to be the perfect fit. “Particularly for infants and toddlers. That’s a real underserved section of the population here in Little Falls,” he stated.

DeLuca said that the YMCA partnered with her and that she has created a model that he believes will really be a good one for the community. “It dovetails well with what the Y childcare programs provide because we pick up pre-school and school-age children. It gives a nice continuum of childcare services in the City.

The hours of operation for the business are 7 am until 4:30 pm and you can reach them at 315-508-5050.