A local resident and experienced educator has purchased the unique West Hartford business and plans to expand service and increase community involvement.
By Ronni Newton
A local educator has purchased the Moppets Drop-In Childcare Business, which closed abruptly just two weeks ago, and will quickly reopen the facility that for a few months had filled a much-needed niche for families in need of an “anytime babysitter” to provide flexible, short-term childcare for up to four hours at a time.
On Friday, the company announced that local childcare expert Miriam Varnai has partnered with Luis Barriga to purchase the Moppets business, and plans to reopen on Monday, March 2.
When Moppets opened in December 2019, it brought the area’s first-of-its-kind childcare facility to West Hartford. When the sudden closure was announced, with financial reasons as the cause, the news was met with shock and dismay by existing and potential customers.
Moppets Drop-In Childcare, which is located at 141 North Main St., on the campus of the American School for the Deaf, will open earlier in the morning than under the previous ownership. The new schedule will be Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Moppets will accommodate children ages 0 through 12. Rates, which vary based on the age of the child and number of children enrolled, can be found on the website.
Previous customers and collaborators are invited to attend a weeklong open house that begins Monday, Feb. 24 and runs throughout the week from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
“We are honored by the opportunity to carry on this business and its much needed services in our community,” Varnai, who will not only be an owner but will also be the facility’s director, said in a statement. “As part of our renewed focus and business plan, we look forward to working more closely with other local businesses, niche educators, artists, and health and wellness professionals to provide unique enrichment opportunities for children of all ages.”
Varnai is not just an entrepreneur, but has a strong background in childcare and early childhood education, and sees this as an opportunity to have a positive impact on family life in the community.
According to a news release, Varnai was previously head of the preschool at the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy in Bloomfield, now known as the New England Jewish Academy. She has worked at the Elmwood Community Center in West Hartford, in roles that included camp director and program coordinator for “Busy Bees,” the 2- and 3-year-old drop-off program.
Varnai earned a degree in applied behavioral sciences from Charter Oak State College in 2018, and has been trained as a parent educator at the Family Resource Center in West Hartford. She is also a recently-appointed board member of the popular local group, Moms and More of West Hartford.
Varnai realizes the important niche that Moppets fills, and is hopeful that she and staff can overcome any negativity and disappointment related to the sudden closure. She has pledged to be open to suggestions and feedback from clients.
“As a mom and engaged member of our community, I have a deep understanding of both the privileges available to many in our community and areas of opportunity and greater inclusion,” Varnai said. “Economic shifts, changes to family structures, as well as career opportunities and entrepreneurial ambitions can have a major impact on childcare needs. As we take ownership, know that we have our eyes and ears open to our clients’ shifting needs and any feedback they may have – especially given the abrupt closure of the business and any negative experiences or sentiments that derive from it.”
Any and all questions or concerned from from previous Moppets customers or anyone else in the community, including potential clients who are interested in a tour, can contact the facility at [email protected]. Calls can be directed to 860-232-2659.
For more information, visit the website. Social media sites will be reactivated shortly and ready for engagement with the community.
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