Dozens of parents were scrambling to find alternate daycare arrangements after the sudden closing of Mini Muffins Preschool (MMP) in Kanata over the weekend.
One parent who did not want to be identified told StittsvilleCentral.ca that she’s lost about $1,000 she had already paid for daycare services until the end of October.
As many as 100-120 children could be affected by the closure.
In a letter to parents and staff, owner Susan Martello said the facility has filed for business bankruptcy: “Both of my parents are critically ill and I am their sole caretaker. I cannot work right now so that I am able to care for them. Financially Mini Muffins is declaring bankruptcy due to this, changes in the school boards and Mini Muffins not being full to capacity.”
She also states that cheques for November will not be cashed, nor will payments already made to the school’s cookie dough fundraiser. (Martello’s full letter is included below.)
The facility ran toddler, pre-school and full-day programs from their facility at 200 Katimavik Road. According to their web site, they opened for business in 2004. It was a popular place and by all accounts provided high-quality care. (Related: “Mini Muffins preschool was a big part of the community”.)
Many parents and staff found out about the closure on Friday via Martello’s email. Other parents didn’t receive the email, and only found out about the closure after they saw a post on Facebook or were contacted directly by staff.
There were no signs up on the doors over the weekend, but on Monday a letter was posted about the closure and employees could be seen filling garbage bags and cleaning up inside.
The sudden closure has left many parents scrambling to find accommodations for their kids. Several local private and home daycares have been able to accommodate some of the children.
Tamara Brown, director of Brown Bear Day Care, says they’ve offered spaces to Mini Muffins parents, and so have other daycare facilities in the area.
Brown says the introduction of full-day kindergarten in Ontario has been a challenge for private daycare providers.
“The sector changes that impacted Mini Muffins are huge. School Boards are aiming to take over childcare and have done an effective job thus far of migrating many children out of the childcare sector and into their boards,” she says.
School board kindergartens are allowed to operate at a much higher ratio of students to teachers than private operators. “The Day Nursery Act (DNA), the legislation that governs early learning and care for children in childcare, lays out ratios of 1:10 and 1:12 for the kindergarten age groupings, instead of what is occurring in school boards, where ratios are anywhere from 2:26-36 to 1:26-36,” she says.
Brown says some operators are adapting to the changes by offering new programs. For example, Brown Bear offers an alternative private kindergarten program, as a response to parents who are concerned about school board class sizes.
We’ve received several messages about the closure of MMP from our readers, many who wish to remain anonymous because of privacy concerns regarding children. Here’s a sample of the comments.
“I am a 21 year old student at Algonquin College studying Early Childhood Education. My first co-op placement was at Mini Muffins Pre-school and being the only male in my classes out of hundreds of students I must admit I was Intimidated. When I first walked into Mini Muffins Pre-school in May of 2014, I remember feeling anxious but the second the staff greeted me I felt at home and at ease. Being a teenager who suffered from anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia I knew that the feeling of ease and a sense of home are not easy to come by. I was hired in July of 2014 to be a full member of the staff at Mini Muffins Pre-school. No staff under my eye has ever been so professional and dedicated to their profession. What these people did wasn’t just amazing it was incredible. From behaviour management to learning the basic fundamental skills that will get these children through the rest of their lives were taught by phenomenally educated and experienced staff. The staff at Mini Muffins Preschool saw something special in me that nobody else has ever recognized before, believe an honest heart, nobody; and never stopped mentoring me until my last shift on October 16th 2014. It is a true tragedy that such an amazing preschool has to shut down at such an inconvenient time for parents and children, without any notice. There are a lot of angry people out there but the fact of the matter is bankruptcy is messy, no matter what business you own. The true story and tragedy at hand today is being masked by the panic of a bankruptcy. The true story that should be on the public’s concern is where will these educators and students turn to now? And should there be more funding available to prevent this from happening again to the children of our future?”
“It really is a true loss for our community. Mini muffins was truly an amazing place, with staff that cared deeply for the children in their care. My daughter enjoyed every day she spent there, and will miss it terribly.”
“Simply devastated for the staff and currently scrabbling to find care by tomorrow.”
“It was a great place to bring my kids every day. The teachers were awesome, the program was awesome and Susan and Luigi were awesome. Mini muffins brought my kids out of their shell! Thank you and I am sorry to see it close!”
“My daughter was in the toddler room, and the staff there were the best. They were a real team, and as a manager myself, I found it intriguing… They were a model team. I’ve always been curious about the costs of running an operation like that. Crunching the numbers in my head, I never would have thought they would go bankrupt. Anyway, very sad. I hope the staff find new opportunities very quickly.”
“It’s a sad time for everyone involved. My oldest son graduated from there and my 4 month old daughter was on the list to start when she turns 18 months It was such a great preschool!”
Did you have kids who attended MMP? Are you affected by the closure? Tell us about your experience in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org