Cheryl Carrier Q&A: 30 years of quality child care

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Cheryl Carrier, 57, Scarborough, Child-care business

When Cheryl Carrier first started her child-care business in 1985, it was run from her Scarborough home, where she looked after 12 children.

Thirty years later, Carrier is the owner of Toddle Inn, a successful child-care empire in southern Maine with locations in Scarborough, Gorham, Cumberland, South Portland, Saco, Auburn, Westbrook and Kennebunk.

Carrier says she started her business when her daughter, Danielle Foley, who is now Carrier’s executive assistant, was born. She said it was difficult in the area to find affordable day care that could provide many services under one roof.

The centers offer day care to hundreds of children, ranging from infants to school-aged. They also offer a variety of programs for toddlers, preschoolers, as well as private pre-K and kindergarten programs.

Carrier said she has always prided her business on going “above and beyond,” including offering extra-curricular activities such as karate, soccer and cooking.

My Generation spoke with Carrier this week about her business, how her career turned to child care and adjustments during the 30-year span.

Q: You’re at the top of your game professionally. Is this the path you planned?

A: No it just happened. I had two small children at home and had decided to leave my career at a local bank to stay home with my children. My friends and neighbors caught wind that I was home and the calls just started coming in. So I decided to open a home day care in 1985 for 12 children, focusing on the developmental and educational needs of children in the area. In 1990 we added a nursery school for 12 additional children in a Methodist church. In 1993, the home day care and nursery school combined to become Toddle Inn Child Care Center Inc. located in Scarborough. We have expanded over the years to eight locations including one franchise.

Q: What has changed the most in your career and how have you adjusted?

A: I have always believed in going above the minimum as to safety regulations of the state Department of Health and Human Services. Toddle Inn has had to adapt to the changing licensing rules and regulations over the years. DHHS rules are more stringent now, but the changes are minimal since I’ve always formulated my decisions based off the feeling that each child were my own. We have added many programs over the years, such as a private elementary school, karate, sign language, cooking, dance and open swim classes. As the needs of families shift, we do our best to accommodate.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: Doing what I love most – providing quality child care to families in Maine. When I walk into one of my locations and the children run over to give me a hug, I know I am helping them to grow and learn while having fun.

Cheryl Carrier, third from left, is the owner of the Toddle Inn, which has eight locations in southern Maine. Also pictured, from left, are her daughter, Danielle Foley, Amanda Harding and Kim Barden.

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