Kid City - where children learn, grow and have fun
Kid City Day Care was born from one woman's belief that children with special needs should have a safe place to learn, grow and have fun. Hundreds of children later, Kid City recently celebrated 30 years of operation.
On a recent summer afternoon, children giggled, squealed and splashed in the Kid City swimming pool. Some of them have developmental disabilities. Others have been diagnosed with autism or are blind. To the casual observer, they're just kids having fun in the water.
Founder Faye Burchett considers them all "hers”.
Special needs have always been welcomed into the Kid City family.
In the daycare hall, Burchett and Renee Rogers rejoice that Rogers has succeeded in locating a mobile baby walker in pristine condition. Rogers has two children, age 24 and 19, who are Kid City alumni. Rogers and Burchett agree that the walker is the perfect solution for a foster child who is recovering from a broken leg. It will allow the child to socialize with her peers without worrying about her injury.
Rogers didn't hesitate when it came to a decision for care for her foster children.
"Faye has years of experience, and it's a good daycare," she said. "I love the environment. I just don't know what I'd do without her."
Burchett has been working out solutions for special needs children since her son Johnny, now 51, was born with developmental disabilities.
"Back then, children like him weren't brought out in public," she said. "They sent them to an institution or special school. Being a strong person, I brought him out in public, but I couldn't find anyone that would keep him."
In 1969 Burchett decided to start her own home daycare. She and her husband, Sam, welcomed other children, including those with special needs, into their home.
In 1984, Burchett obtained her business license and moved the daycare out of her home and into the first Kid City location.
Now there are two Kid City locations — a daycare center at 719 Fisher Ferry St. and one for older children at 944 Fisher Ferry St, run by her son Jerry Burchett.
It's a family run business. Sam is painter, electrician and even pool maintenance technician.
"He pretty much keeps us glued together and keeps the wheels turning," said Burchette with a laugh.
The “wheels” all move toward a common goal — enhancing the physical, mental and social development of each child according to their abilities and needs.
“We have worked hard over the years to have a high-quality child care facility,” said Burchett. “ We try hard to get the children ready for kindergarten so they will succeed through the years.”
Their efforts have paid off.
Burchette points to the ceiling of the school-aged facility, where there are rows of photographs of pre-kindergarten graduates, dressed in caps and gowns.
"That picture is my 2001 graduates," said Burchett proudly. "These kids just graduated from high school."
The youngsters aren't the only ones who earn high praise. At the other center, Burchette is just as proud of her "wall of fame". On it are credentials, certificates and degrees earned by the center's staff. All of the staff are at some stage of increasing their level of education, while earning their credentials, associate or bachelors degrees.
Several frames bear Burchett's name. She and Jerry earned their associates degrees from DCCC on the same day.
Staff education contributed to the four-star rating at the Kid City Day Care and the five-star rating at the Kid City Children Center.
Executive Director Bill Pless of Smart Start of Davidson County feels that Kid City has worked really hard to achieve and maintain their status as a high-quality center.
"They have been loyal participants in our quality enhancement program," he said. "Smart Start enhances the benefits that the center is able to offer to their staff, ensuring less turnover and more stability in those classrooms."
Staff plan developmentally appropriate curriculum that are designed around the children's interests.
Even the sanitation rating is top notch — 100 points.
Burchett, who wears many hats at the center, is also its chef.
"I cook things that the children like to eat," she said. "They won't let you have ravioli because you can't measure the meat that's in it. But it will pass if you add beef and cheese to it!"
Burchett explained how all her family’s hard work has paid dividends in the futures of the children who have called Kid City home.
"Hundreds of children have passed through these doors and some have come back as they have grown up to just say hello," said Burchett. "I have children in the day care whom I have raised their parents and it has been a joy for them to visit as an adult. It really warms my heart.
"These children are our future."
Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit kidcitydaycarecenter.com or call 475-0721.