Farmington Hills resident Jillian Hukill will make a big leap soon, from in-home day care provider to owning a day care center.
Hukill founded Little Tree Huggers Child Care in 2009, leaving a special education teaching job that she loved and a one-hour commute she did not. Bedrest required for her second pregnancy, the Eastern Michigan University grad said, gave her time to think.
“I had always tossed around the idea of having an in-home day care,” said Hukill, now the mother of three. “I just decided to go for it.”
Just months after she took out a small craigslist.com ad – “and it wasn’t even a cool ad” – Little Tree Huggers was full, with a large waiting list. Hukill said her approach leans heavily on the arts, music, literacy and nature, and offers organic meal options. Kids get plenty of fresh air, even in the winter months, and enjoy visits from Beverly the Music Lady and Dan the Creature Man.
In her home, Hukill has 17 children enrolled, and about 12 on site each day. When she lost a couple of families because she didn’t have room for siblings, the search began for a larger space. Originally, Hukill hoped to convert a house, but after striking out twice – once because of concerned neighbors, and once because of exorbitant conversion costs – she finally found the perfect building.
The former Kindercare, located at 38620 W. Nine Mile Rd., will accommodate up to 74 children, ages newborn through pre-K. A spacious yard is surrounded by trees, which makes for a private and natural setting.
Hukill said the new building has a large multipurpose room for group activities and opportunities for siblings to play together. Moms who want to come in on their lunch breaks to nurse their babies will also have a quiet room available to them.
Hukill will host a movie under the stars from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on September 24, to provide more information. To RSVP or learn more, visit littletreehuggerschildcare.com.