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The sweet side of child care

Local off-base daycare sites offer informational sessions for new military families

Puyallup and Horizon Learning Centers offer a plethora of military-friendly perks including extended hours, subsidy assistance, and above-and-beyond support from staff. Photo credit: Allegra Antwine

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Choosing the ideal daycare facility is a lot like endeavoring to bake the perfect cake: it requires patience, quality ingredients, and attention to detail. The little things that set each center apart from the rest can certainly sweeten the deal, adding the metaphorical icing to the child care cake in question. Thankfully, local off-base sites Puyallup Learning Center and Horizon Learning Center will be hosting informative sessions this month, helping families navigate the overwhelming process, one ingredient at a time.

Horizon and Puyallup Learning Centers are sister branches, both owned by military spouse and early-learning veteran Shelly Helton. Horizon is located in Lacey, while the Puyallup location runs out of its namesake town, providing bussing to and from Carson, Edgerton, and Brouillet Elementary Schools. These sites are potential hubs for the military community, as they are located in heavily populated military cities.

Both centers will be hosting open-house-style events at their respective locations at 11 a.m., March 23 (Horizon) and March 30 (Puyallup). Each session is catered specifically to military families and are free to attend. Parents are encouraged to bring the children along to appraise as to whether the centers are an ideal fit.

"We will have a toddler teacher as well as a preschool teacher to plan some activities that will keep the kiddos busy so that families can listen to the information," explained Puyallup Center director and military wife Amber Smith. "Parents will learn about our center, what makes us unique, and how we support military families through avenues such as the Child Care Aware of America (CCAOA) military subsidy process."

Each assembly will allow parents and guardians the chance to tour the facility, meet staff, and participate in a live Q&A session.

"It's a great opportunity to get some one-on-one time with myself, or our assistant director. Parents can ask questions that might be specific to their family's needs, and can also receive help with the enrollment or subsidy paperwork if preferred," Smith encouraged. "However support is needed, this is a great chance to receive it."

Attendees who wish to enroll at the learning session will have the option to do so, and will be rewarded by means of a waived registration fee, which equates to a savings of $100. This icing on the cake represents the general philosophy practiced at Puyallup and Horizon Learning Centers, where military members, spouses, and children are truly valued.

"We really want to make sure the military community knows we're here, since we are new to the community." Puyallup Learning Center opened in 2018, and already serves upwards of 10 military families. "We want to let families know that there is quality child care available to them off-base."

Horizon Learning Center, 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, 4515 Intelco Loop SE, Lacey, 360.539.5050,

Puyallup Learning Center, 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, 9903 168th St. E., Puyallup, 253.697.0040,

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