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Derrick Kvernen, 2 and-a-half year old, cruises around on a toy after nap time Wednesday afternoon at Tots Spot in Hillsboro, N.D. Jesse Trelstad/Forum News Service

New Hillsboro day care helps small town provide missing service for families

HILLSBORO, N.D. -- Derrick Kvernen wasted no time Wednesday wandering around Tot Spot Hillsboro.

The curious 2½-year-old roamed the day care center before finding a Fisher-Price Musical Lion Walker and began cruising around a nap room as he pushed the colorful toy.

Tot Spot Executive Director Jenna Schultz smiled as she watched the boy play before helping day care employees tend to children.

The day care provider opened its Hillsboro facility Wednesday. Aside from a weeklong delay for opening -- the state had a backlog of background checks and fingerprinting -- most signs pointed toward a relaxed and positive beginning, Schultz said.

“So far, so good,” she said. “Everybody seemed happy this morning.”

The opening was calmer than its counterpart facilities in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Schultz said. The day care provider has six centers in total, with the Hillsboro branch the first to open outside of the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Tot Spot fills a gap for day care demand the Hillsboro area. Main Discovery Creative Education Center at 1 First Ave. S.W. closed Sept. 30 because of financial struggles and licensing problems. Coupled with a growing population and a decreasing number of home child care providers, the need for day care has grown dramatically, local officials said as they advocated for more child care providers.

The Hillsboro Economic Development Corp. recently purchased the building for $147,000, in the hope it would serve as an investment for the future of child care and growth in the city.

EDC President Rob Owens previously told the Herald that providing enough child care is key to helping Hillsboro grow, and Tot Spot could contribute to making sure the city remains attractive to potential residents.

“They had a pretty big need here,” Schultz said. “It’s nice to see that it is helping with growth.”

Tot Spot moved into Main Discovery but intends to build its own facility closer to Interstate 29. After that, the EDC wants to find another day care business that could move into the building.

A new Tot Spot facility could come to fruition in 12 to 18 months, Schultz said. She expects they will need to expand by then.

With 28 spots filled, Tot Spot can take up to 57 children as young as infants. Schultz hired eight employees and expects to hire a few more.

“It’s taken off pretty good,” she said, adding enrollment increased faster than expected.

Happy to be open

Tot Spot has a school-type feel, splitting the children into age groups. The staff also uses a curriculum that allows them to focus on implementing lessons.

“Some still like their home care and some would rather choose a center,” she said. “It’s great to have options for all of the families.”

The center also incorporates Facebook and an app into its operations, allowing parents to follow the activities of their children throughout the day. Parents can look at photos and check on an array of things, from what their children ate to what diapers were used.

It’s an advantage BriLeigh Spilde appreciated. She enrolled her infant son in the daycare center, and she works there, too.

“Being on the parent side opposed to the staff side makes me appreciate it more,” she said of the app.

Brandi Knudson, the director for the Hillsboro branch, was nervous for the opening, but she said it went smoothly and that parents were excited the day care center was open.

“I think they were happy that they could all come to one spot, drop their kids off and know that we were open,” she said.