The babies look at her adoringly, before some object of their fuzzy and colorful surroundings catches their attention. Brown sets the girls on soft playards on the floor, and they squirm and reach and gurgle, happy as clams.
It’s a surprisingly serene setting for a daycare, but that is Telluride Sitters’ intention: to create an early childcare setting that is comforting and inviting for its young visitors.
Brown has owned and operated the Telluride Sitters business since 2008, but its evolution into year-round daycare, catering to the unique needs of local working families, is still in its infancy. Brown expanded the program, which is based in the licensed daycare facility in The Peaks Hotel, just this spring, and the new daycare option has proven valuable for local families.
Unlike the majority of daycare providers in the area, Telluride Sitters offers a drop-in program, which provides a viable childcare option for parents struggling with fluctuating, resort-based work schedules, as well as visiting families looking for childcare during their vacation.
“It’s everything from the local children who can’t get in at their other daycare for a day, to the visitors who are here for a week or a month,” Brown says of Telluride Sitters’ clientele, which range in age from two months to six years.
Brown’s career in childcare began at the Tennyson Center for Children in Denver, a touted facility focusing on the treatment and education of abused, neglected, and at-risk children. As a social worker with degrees in sociology as well as a childcare director’s qualification, Brown worked with the Tennyson Center’s Head Start preschool program, and says she fell in love with the under-six age group.
“That’s the big thing I learned [from Tennyson]: It’s really about making the little things matter for kids,” she says of her background working with disadvantaged children.
Brown moved to Telluride to become the Nursery Manager for the Telluride Ski Resort, after which she took over the Franz Klammer Lodge’s Kids’ Night Out program. Through it all she built a network of both local and visiting families for whom she would babysit.
That network helped her start the Telluride Sitters business in 2008, and in 2010 the program moved into the old Kid Spa facility in The Peaks Hotel, a space that boasts expansive toddler and preschool play areas, two fenced outdoor playgrounds, and a cozy nap room.
After moving into The Peaks space she started seeing more and more local parents taking advantage of her drop-in services, either to help round-out their other childcare schedules, or just to have a few hours to ski, bike, or spend one-on-one time with their other children.
“I started to see it as a great opportunity: If I can sustain this business with visiting tourism while providing flexible local daycare, I could really give something back to the community,” Brown says of launching Telluride Sitters’ year-round daycare program.
As Brown knows all too well, Telluride’s seasonal economy creates stress for many local parents, whose work schedules ebb and flow according to Telluride’s tourism fluctuations.
Providing a drop-in program, with the additional longer-term contract daycare option that is standard at other area daycare centers, Telluride Sitters could fill a local childcare niche in Telluride, Brown determined. All the while, Telluride Sitters could continue providing childcare for Telluride’s visiting families.
Telluride Sitters’ daycare enrollment is around seven part- to full-time students, and the facility is licensed to take up to 15 children. Brown and other Telluride Sitters caregiver Michele Blunt are both Colorado Director Qualified early childhood teachers.
For the summer, Telluride Sitters offers a Summer Camp program for older children, which highlights kid-friendly activities like swim lessons at The Peaks pool, field trips, arts and crafts, and basic backyard play.
Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and rates range from $35 for a half-day to $54 for the drop-in rate.
For more information visit www.telluridesitters.com.