Play N Learn Daycare and owner Raegen Breeden are this year’s SBA Montana Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year.
Play N Learn began as an in-home daycare licensed for 12 children on Malmstrom AFB in 1997. Operations were moved off base into a residential home in 2000, and a second home daycare was added in 2002, increasing Breeden’s licensing to care for 24 children. A third location was added in 2007, increasing her license ability to care for 67 children.
Breeden sold the home daycare operation in 2008 to focus on managing the day care center location. The new center model brought different challenges and license requirements, while also creating jobs. By 2017, eighteen jobs were created paying more than $340,000 in wages and benefits annually. As of January 2019, she employs 28 staff members and pays annual wages of over $800,000.
Play N Learn’s full day preschool model is based on a comprehensive and thorough philosophy statement that has connected with parents and engages children. Her structured play model helps children learn through social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development.
The business continues to transition from a small center model to a large center model. Expansion to a significantly larger center is in process. An SBA 504 loan was approved and will fund in 2019. The new facility will be known as Play N Learn Academy and will care for up to 120 kids at one time. Separate areas will be provided for babies, toddlers and pre-kindergarten levels.
Since 2008, Breeden has maintained a mentorship relationship with the individual who bought her home daycare business and mentors three other local daycare and preschool owners as well. She is an advocate for Family Connections, a non-profit organization assisting families in finding child care. Her support helps raise awareness for the program and how it benefits the community and families in Great Falls.
Play N Learn Daycare was nominated by Jason Nitschke, Director of Great Falls Small Business Development Center at Great Falls Development Authority.