After a months of planning and construction, a few close calls in between, the Tiny Sprouts Daycare - On the Prairie opened its doors on Tuesday, May 1 in Clarkfield. The new facility, which is located just across the street from the old High School, will assume the place of the temporary daycare facility run through the Clarkfield Area Charter School.

Board of Directors member, and City Manager for Clarkfield, Amanda Luepke, explained that “with the temporary location closing, we were under a deadline to get the new center open as soon as possible.”

This deadline was just one of several hurdles Tiny Sprouts faced during its long, and at times unlikely, creation process. “The past year had many obstacles for the child care board to overcome – funding and delayed construction hurdles were the main obstacles throughout the project, but as we grew closer to opening, we had new obstacles to overcome,” Luepke said.

One major hurdle that was only recently cleared was the inspection by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. “We were able to work with our building official, the State Fire Marshal and Countryside Public Health to expedite the process in order for DHS to schedule their inspection,” Luepke explained.

However, an increase in the expected enrollment numbers towards the end of the process nearly derailed final approval, triggering what Luepke called “a mad dash to the finish line.” Nevertheless, the leaders behind Tiny Sprouts “preserved together as a board to overcome each and every hurdle.”

The day before opening, the staff was busy putting the finishing touches on the new daycare center. At full capacity, the building can accommodate 66, though Tiny Sprouts is currently licensed for 58 children. There are 24 infant spots (6 weeks to 16 months), 14 toddler spots (16 months to 33 months), and 20 preschool spots (33 months to Kindergarten).

Tiny Sprouts is housed in a brand new daycare facility only recently completed. Luepke says that the new structure is ideal for the Clarkfield area community because it provides Tiny Sprouts “the ability to grow into the space by adding licensed spots, as well as develop our playground space into something catered to young children.” For example, there are also grant funds currently available to convert the back- yard space into an “amazing outdoor kid-friendly play area.”

The building is fully supplied with “brand new furnishings, such as furniture, dishwasher, commercial refrigerator, front loader washer and dryer,” Luepke said. There is also a new and efficient heating and cooling system in addition to an air exchange system. Luepke also touts the facility’s close proximity to the community pool and community parks.

Before opening, Tiny Sprouts employees were “excited to interact with the children and families, along with working in the brand new facility,” said Luepke. She also praised their role in helping the daycare make it across the finish line in time for opening day, explaining that “the staff was a key component of getting the rooms ready for the children to start on their first day.

Luepke also thanked the Clarkfield community “for the support and patience as the board of directors ventured on this project.” She said that there were many unexpected challenges during the final year of construction, but added that “we are so proud of Clarkfield that we could help with the state-wide child care crisis. Clarkfield, again banded together and showed they can do the impossible to bring additional services to our county.”

Although there are additional projects to complete, and future hurdles to overcome, Luepke believes that Tiny Sprouts Daycare “is a huge asset for the citizens, business owners, families, and children of Clarkfield and surrounding communities.”