Three sisters join forces to open a day care center

With 128 enrolled children, ages six months to six years old, Independent Childcare Preschool and Nursery is a lively and successful business just 18 months after opening.

The founders and owners are three sisters: Cynthia Daniels, 55; Tearetha (also known as "T") Plair, 54, and Christie Carter, 49. They opened the day care in December 2022 at 1551 Madison Place on the east side of Springfield. While the center is fairly new, caring for kids has been part of their lives for decades.

click to enlarge Three sisters join forces to open a day care center
Sisters and co-owners of Independent Childcare, Nursery and Preschool: Tearetha Plair, left, Christie Carter, center, and Cynthia Daniels with some of the children they care for.

"It all started with our mother," says Plair. "Our family moved to Springfield in 1986, and our mother opened a home day care, which she still operates to this day. She also takes in foster kids and helps families in need of a short-term place to stay. So, she embedded in us a caring nature for kids."

Daniels adds, "After working at our mother's day care, we moved on and each opened day care businesses in our own homes. We love kids. We are blessed by the joy and smiles they bring us every day."

Over the years, the women grew in their child care knowledge and experience. "We talked about expanding our services and decided to do it together," explains Carter. "We are not only sisters but also the best of friends. We each have our strengths and weaknesses, so we balance each other out."

It helped that they found a building available for lease that was originally a school. The location and space met their needs. The center houses eight classrooms: two for babies, two for 1-year-olds, two for toddlers and two for preschoolers. It also has a large indoor play area, a kitchen and an outdoor playground.

The ladies said they were fortunate that all the children they previously cared for in their homes chose to move with them to the new center. In addition, they each owned cribs, high chairs, toys and other necessities that they moved from their home settings to the new building.

Daniels says it was difficult for them to get financing for the new business, so they pooled their own funds. "It was a struggle, but we worked it out," she notes. "We are now looking at opportunities for grant funding."

The women share the title of director, with responsibilities that include overseeing staff, government compliance, bookkeeping, payroll and hiring. "We make all our decisions together," shares Carter. "If one of us disagrees, we don't move ahead. We look for options and solutions until we can all agree."

Among the goals of the center is to ensure kids are growing and learning the right curriculum for their age. Ongoing daily communication with staff and parents is also high on the list of goals.

"Parents were very excited about our new venture," says Plair. "They know us and their kids know us, so the change was easy and convenient for them."

One parent, who enrolled her twin sons in Independent Childcare after her mother passed away in 2023, expressed her happiness with the services. "We are blessed by the love and care they provide," she says. "The center provides a bright light and ray of hope to the community. It is inspiring to see small business owners providing a safe haven for many families and children, along with employment to others."

When asked how they decided on a name for the center, the sisters said they are firm believers that everybody will one day have independence, so they lead every child to believe they can become independent learners and that they will become independent and successful adults.

At the end of the day, Daniels, Plair and Carter agree that running a family business is all about trust. They can go to each other and know they will back each other up. They are proud of what they have accomplished and look forward to continued support from the community.

Jean Campbell is a Springfield writer who loves sharing stories about local people, places and businesses.