Sheboygan County EDC: Little Owls expands conventions of childcare

Sheboygan County, WI – The Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) works with local entrepreneurs to encourage investment in community-identified markets. One market that has been identified is childcare, specifically, second and third shift childcare options. The SCEDC and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Green Bay has assisted Yer Xiong of Little Owls Childcare Center in developing a business plan to start her new childcare facility at 5934 South Business Drive in the town of Wilson.

Born in Thailand, Xiong moved to the United States in March 1993 at the age of 5. After her family settled in Sheboygan, Xiong has made the area her home for the past 27 years. She graduated from Sheboygan North High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in health care administration with a minor in business from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in health management from Lakeland University.

“My professional experience/ education background is in health care,” Xiong said. “I’ve worked for a non-profit organization for over a year and then became a Hmong medical interpreter for Aurora Sheboygan Clinic, which I have done for the past five years.”

Citing her own challenges in finding suitable childcare services in Sheboygan County, Xiong developed the idea to open a childcare center that could cater to the varied schedules of working parents.

“It was difficult to find childcare services in Sheboygan County for our children due to the long wait list of up to one year,” Xiong said. “We saw an online article from the SCDEC about the need for non-traditional hours for childcare services, such as second and third shift, so we decided to open up a childcare center to fulfill that need and demand in Sheboygan County. My husband, Ka Ying, and I love living in Sheboygan County. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. We believe having another option for childcare services that goes past 6 p.m. would greatly improve the quality of life of many Sheboygan County residents.”

After months of planning and development, Xiong is set to open Little Owls Childcare Center this autumn with extended hours and a free play structure serving as the central focus of the facility’s daily schedule.

“When we open Little Owls in October, we will be providing services for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years,” Xiong said. “We accept part-time and full-time enrollments, private and state pay. Our plan is to be open from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday with each shift serving up to 48 children in three rooms separated by age group.

“I am structuring Little Owls to be a free play childcare center,” she said. “I want the children to come to Little Owls and be able to freely be themselves and learn through play. We will have the normal structure of breakfast, free play, group time activities directed by the teacher, outdoor play time, lunch, nap time, snacks, outdoor playtime, dinner for children enrolled in the evening, free play and sleep until parent pick-up for evening shift.”

Including Xiong herself, Little Owls Childcare Center will feature a fully-licensed staff. “I have previous experiences working at a childcare center,” Xiong said. “I am a certified daycare teacher through The Registry, which verifies that I meet or exceed entry level and on-going training requirements of licensing administrative code established by the Department of Children and Families. I have experiences working with infants, toddlers, pre-school age and school-age children in a childcare setting.

“We will employ at least seven staff members, including lead teachers, assistant teachers, a director and cook,” she said. “I am looking to hire individuals who have experience in the childcare/child education field. Anyone interested can contact me through the phone and email provided. We will start enrolling children in September.”

Xiong has received valuable assistance from the SCEDC in lifting her idea for Little Owls Childcare Center off the ground. “Ray York at the SCEDC has acted as a mentor in assisting with my childcare business plan,” Xiong said. “He has given out excellent suggestions, such as local contractors in the Sheboygan area for me to reach out to. The SCEDC is a very resourceful place for me.  They were the organization that helped me get my foot in the door of establishing a business plan and meeting with various local banks in Sheboygan to secure a business loan to start my childcare center.”

Based on her intentions to feature in-demand extended hours not typically offered, Xiong believes Little Owls Childcare Center will be exactly what working families are looking for in a childcare facility. “My long term-goal with Little Owls is to expand and be open around the clock – first, second and third, shift,” Xiong said. “I want to meet the needs and demands of many Sheboygan County resident parents who need childcare services for non-traditional work hours.”

For more information on Little Owls Childcare Center, email [email protected] or call (920) 912-8468.

For more information about SCEDC entrepreneurial services, email [email protected] or call 920-452-2479.