Childcare is hard to find. A shortage in capacity of childcare is a nationwide issue with no exception in the town of Williston. The waitlists are long, with often no movement. Janie Cox saw this need when she decided to quit her teaching job to stay home with her growing family. She opened Happy Families in the new addition of New Hope church in 2017 that offered care for 40 children.
An opportunity arose to partner with Williston State College when the Williston Area Economic Diversification Group found the space and gathered funding for a daycare facility in the Crighton Building on WSC campus. The group put out a request for proposals from providers and chose Jeremy and Janie Cox.
The couple will be opening the doors to Bright Beginnings this fall, providing care for 70 children, offering preschool and year-round daycare from ages zero to school age. A ribbon cutting ceremony is in place for Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m.
Unique to this facility, is the opportunity for WSC and Valley City State University students to work hands-on toward their degree by earning practicum hour requirements while working at Bright Beginnings.
“While in the VCSU Early Childhood Education program, students will be able to complete their program’s practicum hours at the Bright Beginnings Childcare Center,” said Williston State College President Dr. Bernell Hirning. “This hands-on, in-person experience will be valuable for the student as well as the center.”
Those students pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education can complete the first two years through WSC or VCSU at Williston. Years three and four need to be completed through the VCSU program.
“Valley City and Williston State are both very open to it, it's all very new to them as well,” Cox said. “Everybody is really willing to work together.”
The preschool portion of the facility will consist of a pre-kindergarten group as well as a three and four-year- old group. On the days opposite of preschool, Bright Beginnings will offer a structured drop-in care called Bison Explorers. This program will be for three to six-year-olds, where each week will be themed and STEM activities will be done. College students will have an opportunity to come into this setting with lessons or complete requirements for their classes.
Cox was able to be a part of the remodeling of the facility alongside the WAEDG and worked with JLG Architects and JE Dunn Construction to complete the project, both companies having unique input on the decisions going into the construction.
“It was fun because I got to work with a friend, who was also a daycare dad, who was the architect at JLG. He had kids and knew what we needed to do in that space,” Cox said. “And JE Dunn had just finished up and their crews came from Little Joe’s (Early Childhood Center) right to Bright Beginnings. Even those men (gave advice). You don’t expect contractors to have that in mind. They were great.”
Construction has wrapped up and the local licensing has come in. The facility is ready to move forward with opening, but is waiting on the state level of licensing to bring the project to completion. When that paper license is in hand, the doors can open and care can begin.
The center has five classrooms that have been somewhat adjusted to needs as enrollment has come in. With the need for infant care being high, one room will be for age zero to 12 months, another for 12 to 18 months and a third for two-year-old — these sections already being full of enrollment. Cox is still enrolling for preschool age and up.
Enrollment and information on the facility and preschool can be found on Bright Beginnings website at www.brightbeginningswilliston.com.