Dover-area parents now have a new option when choosing a safe, yet educational environment for their young children during the day.
The Favored Childcare Academy held its ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday at 2319 S. Dupont Highway, next to the Johnny Janosik furniture store, near Camden. The Academy occupies the building once used by the Kent County Public Library.
But like the Academy's motto says, it's not a babysitting service, it's a learning center.
"We want the kids to learn when they're here," said owner and administrator Kana Ikwuagwu. "I love kids and always wanted to work with them. That's what led me to open my own home daycare."
But Mrs. Ikwuagwu, who owned and operated Kana's Home Daycare in Voshell Mill for eight years, wanted to do more.
"I wanted to make it bigger, so we could have more activities for the kids," she said. "That's what made me start thinking about the Academy."
Working with her husband, Dr. Vincent O. Ikwuagwu, an adjunct professor of accounting at Delaware State University, Mrs. Ikwuagwu began scouting for locations in July 2012, finally settling on the recently vacated library building. The location was great: on U.S. Route 13, the building had plenty of parking, was easily accessible to downtown Dover and Dover Air Force Base and was central to schools in the Caesar Rodney School District, which would allow buses to drop off and pick up children daily.
What followed was months of planning, paperwork and regular coordinating with a surveyor, architect, Kent County inspectors and input from Delaware's Division of Family Services.
The latter has a thick publication, formally known as Delacare, but more unofficially called the "Blue Book" because of its cover color, which sets down standards for children's daycare and educational centers.
"At first we thought it would be easy, because a library was a place where people congregated a lot," said Dr. Ikwuagwu.
"But it was a lot of work," he admitted. "Meeting the requirements for children, it's not easy, especially if you're working with an older building."
To meet Blue Book's standards, windows in the building had to be replaced so firefighters could access them more easily, new bathrooms, tailored for children, had to be installed, and a security system put in place.
"It was rigorous but necessary," Dr. Ikwuagwu said. "It was worthwhile because we wanted to have a facility that was up to code and was a safe and natural environment for children."
Part of providing that safe environment is the Academy's security system, which includes keeping the entrance doors locked and only allowing in visitors after they're screened by the Academy's receptionist, Mrs. Ikwuagwu said.
Page 2 of 2 - The vast, open interior of more than 6,000 square feet has been divided into classrooms, a baby room complete with rocking chair, a small kitchen, an open area for play and space for older children and their after-school activities, including homework. There also is a large, fenced-in playground that in summer time will benefit from shade provided by trees towering overhead.
The walls are painted in soft pastels, but soon will be decorated with the help of Cleo Harmon, a teacher at DSU's Early Childhood Education Laboratory School. Harmon created a mural several years ago as part of the university's Harlem Renaissance program.
The Academy will cater to children between the ages of six weeks and 12 years. Toddlers will receive lessons in basic math, language, social skills, basic science and songs and cultural music.
They'll also be provided a healthy breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks.
There is a $50 application fee, which will be waived through Jan. 31. Weekly costs run between $140 and $165, depending on the age of the child. The Academy also provides a discount for additional children from the same family.
For more information about the Favored Childcare Academy, call 698-1266.