New childcare center in Luray hopes to fill void in the community

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 12:39 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LURAY, Va. (WHSV) - A woman in Luray is gearing up to open a daycare with the goal of addressing a need in Page County. Jenna Smith runs the Facebook group Page County Word of Mouth and has used it to help the surrounding community with things like clothing drives and delivering meals to families in need.

“Part of that was just getting involved and helping where we can. So I’ve just found little needs in the community and we’ve tried to address those so partnering with people who are giving away clothes and having it at my house so people can have a central location to pick up things,” said Smith. “People have been really receptive to my efforts and me trying to just give back and pay it forward.”

Now with the help of the community Smith and some her friends are looking to fill a void by starting the Every Child Early Learning Center in Luray which will open this summer. The goal of the center is to provide specialized care for children with disabilities, something Smith saw a need for when looking for child care for her own children.

“My three-year-old and five-year-old both have autism and sensory processing disorder and there weren’t really any options for children with special needs to have that specialized child care setting. I can’t work without child care so I was trying to find some sort of solution and there wasn’t one,” said Smith who will own the center and serve as its co-director.

Smith and her friends are now looking to provide that solution. Every Child Early Learning Center is now nearly fully staffed and already has 45 children enrolled ahead of its August 1st opening.

“We kind of came up with this idea of an every child early learning center where we accept children with and without special needs but are specialized so that all staff have the training to work with children of any need, complex medical issues, behavior issues, and just every child,” said Smith. “Having speech therapy, occupational therapy, and ABA therapy come to Page County which isn’t anywhere nearby has been kind of the whole focus of how can I make it happen for this community.”

One big benefit of the learning center is that it will have a much smaller than average child to staff ratio than most daycares with just five children to every one staff member.

The learning will center will also provide drop-in care for parents who need an hour or two of child care on short notice.

“It really is about putting together all my interests and passions into one setting where I’m able to really meet the needs of the community in more ways than one. So not only are we having specialized child care but we’re having extended hours so we that meet the needs of the workers in our community,” said Smith.

The learning center is currently fundraising to cover its startup costs and will hold a breakfast buffet fundraiser at the Luray Fire Hall on Saturday, May 27. It will also host a Farm Olympics event on June 25 at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard in Stanley.

You can learn more about the childcare center here.