Written by Nancy Lautner
Tykes and Tots began as a for-profit childcare organization in its original location of 2114 Preston Avenue in late 1999. It opened its doors in October 2000 and was licensed for 20 children. It expanded to 25 children in the spring of 2001.
In September 2003, Tykes and Tots changed ownership and remained as a private organization. In January 2007, the owner of Tykes and Tots worked with the parent group to change it from a private childcare centre to a non-profit, thus securing government funding and ensuring the survival of the organization for the immediate future. It continued to run as a single centre licensed for 25 children until November 2011 when Tykes and Tots was approached by the Ministry of Education and requested to take over operations of the childcare centre located at 1406 8th Avenue North, operated at the time by the North Park Childcare Cooperative. Tykes and Tots took over the location on January 1, 2012, adding 29 licensed spaces to the organization.
In May 2013, Tykes and Tots once again expanded by opening up a new location in St. Anne School at 102 Ravine Court, licensed for 30 children. This was closely followed by another expansion – again Tykes was asked to take over an existing centre located in Cardinal Leger School at 141 Campion Crescent. This location was licensed for 30 spaces – bringing the total of licensed childcare spaces to 114 for the organization in July 2013.
Throughout 2013 and into 2014, the organization size stayed consistent and the focus was on program quality and developing organizational leadership skills to ensure appropriate leadership for the existing locations.
In the fall of 2015, the Cardinal Leger location expanded from 30 spaces to 38. In the summer of 2016 Tykes ran our first school age program – providing summer care for up to 30 children based out of the Luther Care facility on Alexandra Avenue. This first excursion into school age care was a success and the board of directors decided to continue with the program for future summer school age care.
2017 was a big year of change. Tykes and Tots bid on, and was successful, in securing the license to operate the new 90 space childcare centre opening up in the newly built Hampton Village Schools. We also bid on the operation of the before and after school programs for the two schools and were awarded both of them. At the same time, an opportunity arose for us to relocate our original Preston Avenue location to a larger location in Lakewood.
Through the spring and summer of 2017, we worked on renovating the 270 Heritage Way location in preparation of the move. In August of 2017, we closed our existing 25 space centre on Preston Avenue and moved to the location at 270 Heritage Way, opening with 40 licensed spaces.
In September 2017, we began operations at the new 90 space centre in Hampton Village as well as both before and after school programs.
In the summer of 2018, the school age program expanded and was operated out of the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre in Lawson Heights. This expanded program allowed us to provide care for up to 100 children in the large space available and proved to be a successful move for the program.
In June 2018, Tykes and Tots was approached by the catholic school board and requested to take over the preschool programs and before and after school programs at St. George School and Pope John Paul II School. The board of directors voted to move forward on all requests. Increasing school age programs helps the organizations’ financial position and providing preschool programs allows Tykes to offer our programming to families who don’t necessarily need childcare but want high-quality preschool education for their children. These programs began operating in the fall of 2018. In January 2019, we discontinued providing before and after school program services at Pope John Paul II school due to low enrolment numbers.
In mid-November 2018, Tykes and Tots was informed that the location at 1406 8th Avenue had structural integrity issues with the roof. We were required to vacate the premises as soon as possible and secured a temporary location in Caswell Hill. Thus, began the search for an alternate location. We had funding to expand spaces to add an additional 40 licensed spaces to our organization, so we started looking for a larger location. After a great deal of searching, the location at 3118 Laurier Drive was approved by the Ministry of Education and the City of Saskatoon. Renovation work began in the spring of 2019 and the location opened in October 2019.
At the time of writing (April 2021), the organization is operating at 272 licensed childcare spaces, 32 preschool spaces, 10 forest school spaces and before and after school programs at Hampton Village and St. George. The COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020. We had a short closure of our programs starting March 23 and began to slowly reopen the programs until we had all childcare centres reopened on June 8. Since the childcare centres were not full in the summer, our school age program ran out of the unused childcare centre classrooms for the summer of 2020 and our preschool and before and after school programs restarted operations the fall of 2020.
As for the future, it looks open and bright. We are always looking at how we can better serve the children of Saskatoon and the families that we work with, whether that be through the different types of care we provide or how we approach our programming. We have a team of incredibly bright and unique individuals who are always improving and innovating on the way we help children grow. And our commitment to providing high-quality care is as strong as ever. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know great things are ahead.