New daycare in EKY town could benefit working families

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Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 4:12 PM EDT
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HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT) - Two floors full of activities will soon be filled with children in Harlan County.

The owners of “Smart Start Early Learning Academy” are opening their second location.

“We are actually at full capacity at our Middlesboro location, so we’ve seen that there is quite the need for quality child care, and we’re a lot more confident coming into this opening,” co-owner Sarah Veillon said.

Veillon and Leigh Roark co-own the two daycare centers.

They hope to have more than 100 kids enrolled with a wide range of ages.

“We start at six weeks. Downstairs, we have an infant room. We will have eight classrooms total, and so, we start at six weeks and we go until they enter kindergarten,” Leigh Roark said.

It’s not simply about building a daycare for Veillon and Roark.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services released a report saying there are around four or five kids for every available slot in a child care service in Harlan County.

“Everything around is full. There’s just not enough. People we have talked to, local community action agencies, have said that’s been a real hinderance for mothers being able to go to work,” Leigh Roark said.

100-plus kids can now get the opportunity to learn real-life skills at an early stage.

“Each child, each classroom will have a schedule throughout the day to be in here. So, we encourage our teachers to help lead them in role play. Help them develop a sense of what it’s like to work in a tool shop, what it’s like to work in a hospital,” Sarah Veillon said.

The Smart Start Learning Academy will be open once Veillon and Roark receive all of the needed licenses.

Their hours will be from 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

The daycare will also have an open house on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for parents to check out their planned activities.