ROCHELLE — A family with longstanding ties to the Rochelle community has purchased the building at 1010 N. 15th St. that formerly housed the Kishwaukee Family YMCA Child Care Center and plans to open it as a daycare again this year.
Ron and Joni Spartz are the new owners of the building and daycare and their daughter, Kristin Spartz Barlow, will run it as its director. Rochelle has been without a daycare since 2020 when Kishwaukee Family YMCA Child Care Center closed. The City of Rochelle took on preliminary work after the closure in hopes of a daycare coming back to town. It put out a survey to residents last year that came back with overwhelming results in favor of a daycare with 72 percent of respondents saying they’re in need of a daycare and 71 percent saying their children would be likely to attend a daycare if it opened in town.
“We saw online that there were a lot of people talking about how there's no childcare here in town,” Barlow said. “I've been working in childcare since 2015. It was just sad to see what happened to the daycare situation in Rochelle. I have friends who worked here, my kids went here. I have friends who had kids going here when it closed. It's like nothing was happening for years. I heard it was going to come up for sale. I got the information and went to my mom and talked to her."
Barlow has worked on opening four other daycares under previous employers. The new daycare will be called Little Hubs Learning Center and it will be a for-profit organization.
“It gives [Kristin] an opportunity to have the kind of daycare she wants to have,” Joni said. “She's our daughter and we know she's good at it. It is a for-profit daycare. The reason being if it's a nonprofit, everything has to go through a nonprofit board. We don't want to stifle her creativity. Our goal is to help the families in Rochelle, to love on the kids and be a part of the community."
Work has been ongoing preparing the facility for DCFS licensing and opening after it sat unused for two years. The DCFS will be coming to check each classroom in the coming weeks. Barlow plans to have six classrooms to start including an infant room, a toddler room, a two-year-old room, two 3-5-year-old rooms and a school-age room. The school-age room will be mostly used for days when there is no school, due to a lack of transportation right now to get kids to and from school from the daycare.
The daycare facility has a total of eight rooms. Barlow said Little Hubs Learning Center has around 80 kids on a waitlist now and those who messaged the daycare first will be given priority. 96 kids will be in the daycare facility when it's first licensed and the facility can hold up to 133 kids.
Little Hubs Learning Center does not have a concrete opening plan yet, but Barlow said she’d like to be open by the end of the year. There are plans for an open house when parents will be able to come in and see the facility.
Barlow said the daycare is still looking for employees, including qualified preschool daycare teachers, assistants, a cook for its commercial kitchen and an office worker.
When it opens, the daycare will serve ages six weeks to age six for regular daycare. For before and after school or days off school, ages will be kindergarten through fifth grade. The hours will be from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Little Hubs Learning Center has a Facebook page by the same name. Work is ongoing on a website. The daycare can be reached by email at [email protected]. The Spartz family said opening the facility has been a large undertaking in recent weeks.
“People have asked why it's taking so long after buying the building,” Barlow said. “It was open as a daycare, but then it closed for two years. If we would've come in immediately as they closed, things would have been different. Nothing here was used for two years. I want to thank everyone that's come in to help us clean up and get things organized. It's been family and friends.”
Barlow, a Rochelle Township High School graduate, has a bachelor’s degree in special education with an emphasis on learning behavior from Northern Illinois University and has a certified teaching degree for special education. She’s director-qualified for daycares and has worked as a director in area daycares with children aged from six weeks to 12 years old.
Joni said she’d like to see the building be full with a waiting list and improve upon transportation opportunities for families after getting acclimated within the community. Ron said he enjoys the idea of giving back to the community that the Spartz family has been a part of since 1977.
“I'm most excited about being an asset to the Rochelle community,” Joni said. “It's always been a dream of ours to have a business. We moved out of Rochelle two years ago and now live in Beloit. The people in Rochelle love to support something that's good. The people here get behind people who want to help people in the community. And that's all we want to do.”