It’s always great to see local businesses thrive in Longford and for Leonie Walsh of Playdays, the word ‘thrive’ is an understatement. In fact, Leonie is creating a wave in the local childcare industry with her Granard facility.
Leonie started up Playdays in January 2015. She started out on her own and, as quality has always been her main priority when thinking about providing a service, she became a registered childminder, which allowed her to care for five children in her own home.
“As I was a local Granard person and was known for working in the childcare field for the past 13 years, the childminding spaces filled up very quickly,” Leonie explained.
So she decided to build her business further and, in September 2015, Leonie branched out to cater for the ECCE free preschool service, catering for 11 children per session.
“We ran two sessions, morning and afternoon,” said Leonie.
“As the childcare sector is very heavily regulated and there is not a lot of support for private services, I felt it was necessary to start small and build it accordingly, to ensure the children and parents had access to a quality service.”
Over the years, Leonie expanded her staff and took in more children and, over the summer of 2019, Playdays received a capital grant, allowing her to create spaces for children from zero to three years old.
“It was then that I decided to take the plunge and renovate my whole house into a creche,” said Leonie.
“We spent seven weeks renovating the premises from a house into a purpose built facility. The project was under Michael Gettings of MFG construction and it was only completed under Michael’s watchful eye during that time frame. He is like Longford’s own Dermot Bannon, really!”
Playdays is now Granard’s first private, full day care centre and can cater for up to 35 children from the ages of six months to six years.
The facility is open from 8.15am until 5.30pm Monday to Friday, catering for the busy work schedules of many local mums and dads.
And the improvements never stop. Leonie’s team of six staff is constantly upskilling and each childcare professional at the creche is highly trained in the area of childcare and can take on any task from Childcare Supervisors to Leaders in Inclusion for children with disabilities, to Honours Degree Graduates.
There are a number of services offered at Playdays, including part time and sessional care. The facility also offers the ECCE preschool programme along with the CCSP subvention scheme.
Leonie and her staff are now looking forward to the introduction of the NCS programme, which will hopefully help to relieve parents of some of the financial burden of childcare.
“Our work in Preschool is carried out under the National Preschool Curriculum programme, Aistear, and quality governance programme, Siolta,” said Leonie.
“This allows us as Early Years Educators to capture the children’s learning and development in a playful, enjoyable way.
“We believe children are our future and deserve the best start in life.
“It is a lovely job as you meet many people from the surrounding areas. We thoroughly enjoy our job and have a genuine interest in the development of children at preschool age.
“We look forward to building our service and relationships with those in the community,” she concluded.
For more information on Playdays Granard, or to inquire about enrolling your child, contact Leonie on 0877698416.
PICTURES: SHELLEY CORCORAN