Drop in: Daycare options expand

April 2017 Posted in Community, Other

By Melissa Wagoner

“Finding a balance of what works best for each child and remembering each child is an individual,” is the goal at Circle of Friends Daycare according to Marcus Clark who, together with wife Jennifer Clark, owns and runs the business.

The Clarks opened Circle of Friends in 2008 when they had their third child.

“We decided to make a change,” Jennifer explained. “Previously we were commuters to Portland.”

Circle of Friends, which started out with just 10 children, has expanded twice in the past nine years. Recently it has grown again and taken up residence across the street from the Silver Falls Library, quadrupling the square footage and adding a preschool program weekday mornings.

“I have set up an environment to invite and motivate exploration of our activities and materials,” lead preschool teacher Rebekka Puhlman said. “We focus on social-emotional behaviors and constantly practice how to interact with each other calmly and politely. We do everything from dancing and singing to board games and yoga. Once the weather is a little better, I plan to take full advantage of the great outdoors and explore all it has to offer, with walks to our beautiful city park.”

Circle of friends is open to children as young as six weeks all the way up to the after school program through age 12. But one of their most unique attributes is their flexibility.

“We do drop-in care – and not a lot of people do that,” Jennifer said.

The center is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and employs five caregivers, not including the Clarks, with an average attendance of 29 to 33 children, depending on the day.

Circle of Friends Daycare
399 South Water St.,
Monday – Friday,
7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“I think the biggest challenge is the staffing; ensuring that you have the right people in the right place,” Marcus said. “We definitely staff so that the children get the quality of care they deserve.”  

Although opening the new center has taken months of hard work and a lot of renovation including bringing the building up to code, adding a kitchen and play yard and designing separate spaces for each separate learning level, the Clarks are excited about the new venture.

“It’s really been a positive change. They have so much room to move around,” Marcus said.

“It’s been the most amazing blessing,” Jennifer agreed. “We get to spend time with our own kids and we get to help other parents, too.”  

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