One year after saving a Dane Valley pre-school from closure owner Charleen Moxam has seven staff on the books and 26 little ones enjoying sessions.
But the Margate mum-of-two says she wants to reach more families, especially those who would benefit from extra support.
The 37-year-old saved Sunshine pre-school after Trinity Resource Centre, which leased the building the nursery is based in, announced it was closing last year and making all staff redundant due to the impact of covid.
Charleen, who was nursery manager at the time, was determined to see the pre-school survive and so invested all her savings to take it on as a new business.
The pre-school is not part of the Holy Trinity Church but does lease the building from them and Charleen says the church and vicar have been very supportive.
Charleen, who started her career in childcare at the nursery in 2012, re-employed the original staff and ran the nursery throughout the pandemic with zero covid cases amongst children or staff.
She said: “A year on we are going strong but we would like to let more people know about us.
“What we offer our children is unique with our free flow system where the door to the garden and woodland area is open constantly allowing children to freely access outside play and exploration.
“Children have complete autonomy, we do not restrict children to make them sit down to strict activities. We are about having the key person getting to know the child. Lots of specialist staff recommend our nursery for children with additional needs and we also offer the 15 and 30 hours free funding.”
The non-profit venture puts all funding back into the nursery and has also been helping some parents who have suffered hard times.
Charleen said: “Although it is a privately owned business it is non profit so all earnings go back into our children. We have supported families who needed help to feed their children by doing shops for them and offering free lunches. We found some parents weren’t bringing children in because they couldn’t do them a lunch box so we just bought extra to provide those lunches.”
Charleen says the nursery has a special focus on speech and language as one effect of the pandemic has been delayed progress in that area for children across the country.
She added: “Covid did not hit us and we stayed open the whole time, none of our children or staff caught it so there were no closures and we are very grateful for that.
“Everything remained the same and because we have a big setting it was still safe for parents to come in and remained as a safe space for the children. Outside the world was going crazy but they could come in and there was normality. Lots of nurseries had to shut things like sand pits but, within covid restrictions, we were able to stay close to normal and have been very lucky to have our outdoor space It also meant staff could come to work and forget about the outside world for a while.”
But Charleen says she wants to do more and reach out to families.
She said: “One of the main reasons I saved the nursey was that it does so much for our local children and the community. I think there are lots more families we could help. The children are at the heart of everything we do and that’s our main ethos.”
Sunshine pre-school caters for 2-4 year olds and capacity for up to 50 youngsters. The pre-school specialises in working with little ones who have additional needs.
Contact the nursery via email on Sunshinemargate.firstname.lastname@example.org
Find Sunshine Preschool Margate on facebook or go to the website at www.sunshinepreschoolmargate.co.uk