Daycare center designed to meet needs of working families


Sisters and working moms Ayan Yusuf and Safiya Ismail were frustrated because they were unable to find clean, safe daycare center options that fit their second shift work schedules. They knew that other parents faced the same problem. Rather than continuing to look for a solution to their dilemma, the family decided to make their own solution.

Newly opened Stepping Stones Daycare Center operates from 6 a.m. until midnight seven days a week, and hopes to add third shift hours soon.

The newly remodeled facility, located near Morse Road and I-71, is beautiful, bright, clean, and safe. A security system, complete with a buzzer system and security cameras throughout the facility, allows staff to monitor both visitors and children at any hour.

Yusuf, who functions as manager of Stepping Stones, and her sister designed the facility and its services themselves.

Whenever we made a decision, we asked ourselves, ‘What would make us feel best as parents?'” explains Yusuf.

The curriculum the center uses ensures that Stepping Stones is an environment where children learn and grow, says Charell Albert, the center’s director. Called Creative Curriculum, it is directive but flexible at the same time, allowing kids to actively learn age in an age-appropriate manner.

The family reached out to ECDI for a small business loan nearly a year ago, after realizing additional capital was needed to get the business off the ground. With a loan from ECDI and technical help from a brother, who started his own daycare facility in 2009, the family spent just over a year renovating the space.

ECDI funding was used to purchase the equipment in the facility, and to train all staff, including CPR and communicable disease certifications. Yusuf says that while regulations don’t require every staff member be certified in those areas, it was important for Stepping Stones that all staff members are certified.

“Without the ECDI loan, none of this would have been possible for us,” Yusuf says.

Stepping Stones Daycare Center is currently enrolling and can be reached at 614-856-6573.

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Amy Szabos foray into microenterprise development began in graduate school as she researched microfinance as a response to human trafficking and poverty. She holds a master's degree in Slavic and Eastern European Studies from The Ohio State University, as well as a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma State University. From 2002 to 2004, Amy did humanitarian work in the former Yugoslavia, helping Kosovar Serbs who had been resettled in Belgrade Serbia after the Balkan wars. She also spent time in Athens, Greece, where she designed and built a human trafficking resource and response kit targeted for use by a humanitarian organization with staff throughout Eastern Europe. Amy is the Economic and Community Development Institutes resident wordsmith (aka Director of Communications and Development). She is happy to spend her days applying what she learned about microenterprise development as a poverty alleviation strategy internationally to her hometown. In her (vanishingly-small) spare time, Amy is a voracious reader, trained labor doula, part-time craftswoman, and full-time stepmother.