Sunshine House daycare plans for new Fort Collins center

Charlotte Lang

Fort Collins’ daycare center, The Sunshine House, has worked to serve the community’s need for childcare since 2014. This service continues with plans for a second center to open next summer.

Construction of the second Sunshine House Early Learning Academy on the corner of South Shields and West Lake Street. Sunshine House is planning to open in July 2020. (Matt Begeman | The Collegian)

Barbra Richardson, the chief branding officer for Sunshine House Early Learning Academy, wrote in an email to The Collegian that Larimer County is currently meeting just 65% of the childcare needs of its residents. 

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With this in mind, The Sunshine House has been working with Colorado State University to develop a second location on or near campus.

“This new school, to be located at the corner of (South) Shields and (West) Lake Street in Fort Collins, is nearly adjacent to CSU’s campus and will be convenient for families that live or work in Fort Collins,” Richardson wrote

The new school plans to accommodate approximately 177 children from ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.

“Since there is a greater childcare need for younger children, five of the school’s 10 classrooms are designed for children age 2 and under,” Richardson wrote. 

The new school will also offer programs for a wider age range.

The current school in Fort Collins, which opened in 2014, currently has 134 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old, and there is a waiting list of more than 200 children. 

There is a strong, unmet need for childcare in Fort Collins. Most schools have waiting lists one or two years long, and families often cannot find quality childcare close to home.” -Barbra Richardson, Sunshine House company spokesperson

Richardson wrote that the average waitlist time is one year.

“Fort Collins is an amazing, vibrant community that values early education,” Richardson wrote. “There is a strong, unmet need for childcare in Fort Collins. Most schools have waiting lists one or two years long, and families often cannot find quality childcare close to home.”

Richardson wrote that The Sunshine House has been exploring opportunities with CSU’s Research Foundation to build childcare capacity at a convenient location for CSU families. 

“The new school will be open to the public and will accept Colorado Child Care Assistance,” Richardson wrote. “However, the upcoming school is a product of a partnership with CSU, (which) has donated (its) time, effort and resources to this important project.”

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Construction of the second Sunshine House Early Learning Academy on the corner of South Shields and West Lake Street. Sunshine House is planning to open in July 2020. (Matt Begeman | The Collegian)

As a result of this partnership, Richardson wrote that the school intends to give enrollment priority to CSU families, but final details around this process have not yet been finalized. 

Current Center Director Samantha Coontz said The Sunshine House’s current families are made up of CSU staff, students and faculty.

Coontz also said the school uses a play-based curriculum that focuses on the social and emotional aspects of a child’s development.

According to The Sunshine House website, the school’s programs “focus on school readiness, social, emotional and intellectual development, literacy, problem-solving skills and what every child needs — love and care!”

Coontz said the overall program is child-driven and is referred to as the “Creative Curriculum.”

“We use this curriculum because we know the power it has to build a solid learning foundation for your child,” The Sunshine House website reads. “It is also one of the few curriculums approved by every State Department of Education in the country.”

The upcoming center is currently set to open in July 2020.

Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @chartrickwrites.