‘A place for all kids:’ New childcare center in Brewer to focus on mental health
Starfish Academy is a childcare center for ages 3-12.
BREWER, Maine (WABI) - A new childcare center focused on the mental health of kids is set to open in Brewer in the coming weeks.
“I’ve just always had a passion for kids with autism and kids who don’t fit the box,” explained Allyson Barnard of Brewer.
After working nearly 20 years in special education, Allyson Barnard felt it was time to fulfill her dream of opening a childcare center.
“Kids are very well taken care of in school,” she said. We have great teachers. They’re getting their support, but I felt like a missing piece was supporting kids outside of school, especially with social emotional learning.”
Her vision is now coming to life.
Barnard, a mom of three, is in the final stages of opening Starfish Academy.
“This is certainly not a special purpose school. It’s a place for all kids. I won’t turn away any kid. I will try to work with everybody who walks through the door to make them successful,” she said. “What does it mean to be a functional member in the community? How do we do that? It starts with being around others and to be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings, to share and take turns, and to be able to work together.”
Starfish Academy will accept kids ages three through 12.
Whether they are reading, learning their letters, or playing inside the movement room, each child will learn direct social skills instruction to help them in their development.
“Kids are going to be learning information. The staff are going to be using the language that the kids are learning to facilitate play and to help facilitate problem solving and conflict resolution, and to support kids in expressing their thoughts,” Barnard explained.
In addition to drop-in day care hours, and full-time and part-time slots for three to five year old’s, Barnard also plans to offer before and after school care.
She’ll even open her doors on some weekends.
“We’ve spent tireless hours getting ready, but it was all worth it. It’s for kids, and kids are our future, so I’m happy to do it,” she said.
Registration is open for kids.
They’re also accepting applications for a number of positions.
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