Children of America, an education-based child care and preschool center, is busy building a Port Jefferson Station facility on Route 112 that is slated to open at the end of June.
The company recently opened locations in East Setauket and Smithtown, and so chief operating officer Jim Parretty said the Port Jefferson Station location "was a natural progression."
"We love the area," said Parretty, who has been with the company for 14 years. "It’s very populated, with strong demographics for children that are in need of good child care."
The Delray Beach, Fla.-based company, which has more than 50 locations in 12 states, is currently enrolling children starting at the age of six weeks for both its regular programs and summer camp programs. CEO Thad Pryor previously told Patch that the company searches for locations based on median income – which is around $65,000 per year – and which has a high population of pre-school-age children within a three-square-mile radius. According to Census data, there are approximately 1,500 children under the age of five in the Port Jefferson Station area.
Parretty said the Port Jefferson Station facility will be 125,000 square feet and will be licensed to have about 220 students.
The centers teach a proprietary curriculum that includes a program called "Just Read," in which children from each Children of America center take turns writing and illustrating story books that the company then publishes and uses in its other centers.
"We’re really preparing the children for elementary school," Parretty said.
The playground at the Port Jefferson Station center will feature artificial turf, which Parretty said reduces injuries as compared to wood chipping that can often be found at playgrounds.
Children of America boasts a security program that parents can use to view their kids playing and learning all day by logging in with a computer, tablet, or smartphone. The Children of America program also covers nutrition and fitness for children – issues that have become front-and-center in the face of staggering childhood obesity statistics, according to the CDC.
"We’re putting together all these programs, which is great in itself, but we’re encouraging participation from the parents at home as well," Parretty said.
Enrollment at the East Setauket and Smithtown locations is steadily increasing, he said. Those two centers were previously home to Tutor Time – of which CEO Pryor was a founder before he sold the chain and launched Children of America. Parretty said the centers often rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, which he said takes time.
"It’ll come along," he said. "It’s always a little bit slower to move into a new area."