New day care center opening on Franklin Street in July

A new type of day care center will be opening on Franklin Street on July 1.

The Nurtured Baby Care Center was created with the aim of capturing a more home-like atmosphere for babies aged zero to 30 months, said Suzi Byrnes, the founder of the center.

“It’s in one of those big, old houses on Franklin,” Byrnes said. “It’s literally three minutes from the UNC campus.”

Byrnes said the bottom level of the house has all hardwood flooring and that the doors have been removed from the frame, allowing infants to have the freedom to explore.

“The center looks, for all intents and purposes, like a home,” she said. “So what the child gets to do is be in a home-like environment, and crawl and toddle and explore."

The Nurtured Baby Care Center will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays. Byrnes said these expansive operating hours are meant to help accommodate parents working in the UNC or Duke hospital systems.

“As a resident, or even for all physicians, your hours are just so tough,” said Dr. Kavita Kantak, an anesthesiologist at WakeMed Health and Hospitals. 

Byrnes is currently a nanny for Kantak’s two young children.

“You have to go in early, or stay late, or you might get an overnight call," she said. "The ability or flexibility to find care for your children is an element of convenience that’s really hard to find."

The Nurtured Baby Care Center will host a staff-to-child ratio of one to two and a half. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services requires that there be at least a ratio of one caretaker to every five infants younger than 12 months, and one caretaker to six children under 24 months. 

Nicole Gardner-Neblett, a research scientist with UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, said the most vital aspect of care for children of this age is ensuring that their needs, physical safety and emotional development are met. 

"The main thing would be supportive relationships in terms of consistent care giving that is in a warm and responsive way, that responds to the child's needs," Gardner-Neblett said.

The care center will only have enrollment availability for 12 children at a time. For parents to keep their children enrolled, they will need to attend five parenting classes a year with the center.

“They will learn about things like parenting and nutrition and lactation counseling,” Byrnes said.

Duke University professor Jeff Beck said these classes would be invaluable to new parents, as he learned plenty from Byrnes when she nannied for his children when they were young. 

“She didn’t just take care of the kids,” Beck said. “She did a fair amount of adult care as well.”

Byrnes said that there is still much to be done before the Care Center opens this summer, but things are coming together.

“It’s just been an ongoing thing,” she said. 

@maddyarrowood

city@daillytarheel.com

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