Hoppy Polliwogs answers need for daycare in Page County with second location

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Hoppy Polliewogs-ribbon cutting 03-19-21

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, March 22 — On Friday, local officials with the Town of Luray, the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce and the Luray Downtown Initiative joined owner Michelle Walters and her staff for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Hoppy Polliwogs Daycare in Downtown Luray.

The former Hunt-and-Peck site owned by the Baughan family had sat dormant for a couple of years before Walters opened her second daycare location in the county on March 1. Her first location in Stanley at 215 W. Main St. (adjacent to the social services and health department offices), opened on July 22, 2019.

“You have to be here for the right reasons because you are not going to get rich doing it,” Walters said of herself and her staff. “We opened [last] weekend for two kids…now some might say, why open for only two kinds, but the need is there.”

Walters has been offering daycare in Luray for the past 31 years, most of that time at her home on North Broad Street where she usually watched over about a dozen children.

“Now, I am babysitting kids who I had their parents,” Walters said at Friday’s ribbon cutting.

Daycare in Page County, and many other areas, became scarce when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year for both public and in-home facilities. Walters said her Stanley site initially saw a 38-percent decrease in enrollment.

“There was only one childcare center in Luray and that was St. Mark’s, and it was shut down because of COVID,” Polliwog’s director Brianna Hawkins said.

In just two weeks, the Luray location at 115 Cave St. has more than doubled its enrollment from 12 to 27 children. The 8,500-square-foot space in Luray can accommodate up to 85 children, according to Walters. Currently, Polliwogs employs nine staff members at the Luray site and eight in Stanley.

The demand has been so high for daycare across the region that Walters said she was recently approached by someone at the Social Services office in Harrisonburg to open a location there, but she says she wants to remain in Page County and is not financially ready to expand her operations further.

“They have waiting lists at some daycares in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County over a year long,” Walters said.

Hoppy Polliwogs Daycare is currently accepting enrollments of children ages six weeks up to age 12. Parents or guardians must provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate and immunization records. Enrollment is based on attendance including a registration fee of $50 and a tuition rate of $40 per day or $100 per week. Part-time and weekend rates are also available.

“Thank you for making the leap and investing your time and energy and staff into taking care of our little ones,” Chamber President Gina Hilliard said at Friday’s ribbon cutting.

Walters hopes to soon add “Date Night/Night Out” babysitting options for parents as well. The owner noted that rates are expected to increase on May 1.

“With the COVID changes in schools and the schedules, it makes a huge difference for parents,” Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer said. “We wish you all the best.”

“It is much needed,” LDI’s new Program Director Jackie Elliott said. “We’re glad to have you here.”

Luray’s newest daycare center is open daily from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Stanley location is open 3 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Walters estimates that she has provided care for more than 1,000 children over the last three decades in Luray and Page County, and she’s excited about the opportunities that lay ahead.

“We are with them more than their parents in some cases,” Hawkins noted. “You open these doors, and they are ours.”

“Coming in here to work, you can’t just come in for a paycheck,” Walters said. “These kids need that stability, and we offer that for them.”

For more information, check out Hoppy Polliwogs Facebook page

or call 860-5292 (Luray) or 225-0642 (Stanley).



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