Nobody can accuse Victoria Sopik of being an underachiever.
As a mother, she raised eight children; as an entrepreneur, she built a national company. And Sopik managed to link the two pursuits.
The CEO of Kids & Company was in Red Deer on Tuesday to mark the opening of her new day care in Clearview Market Square. With space for 135 children, from toddlers to pre-teens, the facility occupies the entire second floor of the commercial building at 8 Conway St.
“This is one of the bigger centres,” said Sopik, whose company operates about 60 Kids & Company outlets from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia.
Fourteen are in Alberta, including new additions in Red Deer and Cochrane.
“Alberta’s been our best market in Canada, quite honestly.”
Founded by Sopik and her business partner Jennifer Nashmi in Toronto in 2002, Kids & Company bears little resemblance to the home-based day cares that many parents are accustomed to. Web cams allow parents to watch their children remotely via computer or smartphone, and programming includes pre-literacy and reading, artistic expression, physical activity and movement, science and exploration, music, French and sign language.
Meals and snacks are prepared in-house, and there are rooms for every age group, as well as common areas and a fenced outdoor play area.
Sopik recalls the challenges she faced as a mother trying to balance the demands of parenthood and career.
“It was a combination of having nannies and child-care centres.
“I really wanted to be a working mom, but I obviously wanted to be able to put my children’s needs first.”
She and Nashmi, who had three children of her own, modelled their first Kids & Company centre after an American day care that provided a backup child-minding service. They thought many parents would value a facility that would care for their children as and when needed.
Flexibility became a key part of Kids & Company’s philosophy, with clients able to utilize its services as their own schedules dictated.
“It could be two days a week or three days a week, or it could be eight days in a month,” said Sopik.
The company also built relationships with corporate clients, which pay $5,000 a year for guaranteed child-care backup for their employees at any Kids & Company centre.
“We have hundreds of corporate clients in Canada,” said Sopik, adding that this perk helps businesses attract and retain employees — especially mothers who left the workforce to have children.
Employees of corporate clients typically pay their own child-care fees, but benefit from special rates and extras like free date nights and Christmas shopping days.
Open since last week, the Red Deer Kids & Company is already caring for children.
“Typically it takes about a year to fill up a centre,” said Sopik.
Fees range from about $50 to $70 a day, depending on children’s ages and needs. Newborns to 12-year-olds are accepted.
“We have over 40,000 families registered right now that use our services,” said Sopik.
Kids & Company has expanded into the United States, with three centres in the Chicago area and new outlets planned for Boston and New York City.
All of the centres are corporate-owned. Sopik explained that this ensures quality is maintained.
“We really, really like to have control over what’s going on.”
Kids & Company also offers in-home elder care, with accredited health care providers on staff. Sopik said this need was identified early on, since many clients have aging parents as well as young children.
Additional information about Kids & Company can be found online at www.kidsandcompany.com