Little Friends’ Children’s Center

Little Friends’ Children’s Center

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It’s a November morning in the U.P. – snow and ice covers the ground and temperatures hang in the teens. But inside Little Friends’ Children’s Center, the day is just getting started; it’s warm, it’s story time, and the Palladian windows at the back of the Center overlook the snowy, wooded back yard, making the frigid winter seem bearable from the inside.

This is Little Friends’ Children’s Center in Negaunee, Michigan, which is part of a Michigan non-profit corporation, Association for Little Friends’ Inc. The Center, established in 1989, offers four childcare programs and accommodates children from infancy through school age.

“I’ve always felt drawn to children. I wanted a large family and was always interested in child development,” said Diana Bergh-Hetricks, Program Director at the Center.

With that in mind, Little Friends’ encourages healthy and proper child development by providing developmentally appropriate programs, licensed and educated caregivers – most of whom have a degree in Early Childhood Education or related fields – and a complete pre-school education program.

“For a small town, it’s a very professional child-care center,” Hetricks said. “In the big cities, you’d pay big bucks to have what we have here.”

The building is designed in a way that keeps similarly aged children together and has a variety of areas for dramatic play, creative activities, games, group play, and individual play. There is also a large backyard space where children can partake in outdoor activities.

Another feature unique to the building design is the three-step safety system that has been implemented.

“There’s one door to the lobby. Children are not allowed to open doors; however, if they were to get out that door, they’d go into the hallway. After that, there’s the main door, and outside, there’s a retaining wall in front to prevent them from running straight into the road,” said Hetricks.

In addition, the building is equipped with a safety system where parents or visitors must be buzzed inside the main entrance.

To the staff at Little Friends’, the safety and well-being of the children who attend is their top priority. A loving and nurturing environment is crucial to young, growing minds and the staff believes in personalized care.

“When the children are here, they receive the love and care that they would get in a home environment,” said Hetricks. “We pride ourselves on knowing the kids – their personalities, their likes and dislikes, their discipline needs … we’re very in tune with our kids here at the Center.”

Parents are welcome to visit their child while they are in care throughout the day, as well. Parent involvement is encouraged and Little Friends’ has an open-door policy with regard to pop-in visits.

The Center also offers activities and small parties throughout the year where parents can attend with their children and have the opportunity to meet their child’s peers and other parents of children.

“We really try to service our families,” Hetricks said. “This is a tight-knit community. We take care of these kids and watch them grow up, and many of them come back and say hi when they’re older. I think these children are our future, and that’s why they need a good head start.”

If you would like to know more information about Little Friends’ Children’s Center, or are interested in enrolling your child, please call: (906) 475-4942.

Little Friends’ is located at 1025 Maas Street,

Negaunee, MI 49866.

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