Laugh N Learn Academy II’s brightly painted partitions, zoo animal murals and academic toys scattered in all places present no indication of the rough reputation new owner Belinda Duncombe is working to debunk.

“I was out doing some direct marketing at Wal-Mart and I was just getting out to different places,” stated Duncombe, 39. “And every time I mention where my second location is they’re like, ‘Are you talking about J’s Bright Learners, where that baby got hurt?’ I’m like, ‘It has nothing to do with her. I’m a whole totally different owner.’ ”

Last month, Duncombe signed a two-yr lease to open Laugh N Learn Academy II, 5304 Seventh St. E. In July 2015, she opened Laugh N Learn Academy, 5233 Fourth Ave. Cir. E., with the assistance of a silent investor and a Kiva Zip Loan. Now Duncombe has 40 youngsters enrolled on the first facility and is shut to being debt-free. She used income from her success there to open Laugh N Learn Academy II.

Everything I purchase has one thing instructional behind it

Belinda Duncombe, owner of Laugh N Learn Academy and Laugh N Learn Academy II

Duncombe is aware of of a number of day-care facilities within the space that modified names however have been nonetheless underneath the identical possession.

“That’s not the case here,” she stated firmly.

When the earlier owner of the day-care facility on Seventh Street referred to as Duncombe to ask if she’d think about taking up the lease, she had “a couple thousand” stocked in her financial savings account and determined it was the fitting choice.

The day care was beforehand referred to as J’s Bright Learners, underneath the possession of Jeanette Jean-Baptiste, till she was pressured to shut its doorways on Sept. 23 figuring out it was dealing with a advantageous from the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The DCF investigated the middle, after a toddler bit one other youngster in August. A employee was later charged with baby neglect associated to the incident.

It took Duncombe three weeks to clear and renovate the Laugh N Learn Academy II constructing. She stated she employed the identical painters and muralists that she used on the unique Laugh N Learn Academy, so the 2 have a uniform look. Duncombe’s husband, Andy Duncombe, 49, is a chef and prepares meals for teenagers in Laugh N Learn Academy’s care.

Belinda Duncombe plans to have the identical meal plan at Laugh N Learn Academy II and just lately purchased a new range for the power. Through the United States Department of Agriculture Child Care Food Program, Laugh N Learn receives a reimbursement to assist cowl the price of feeding the youngsters. Because it’s a federally funded program, Duncombe stated her amenities are inspected by Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc., a nonprofit that works to “strengthen the lives of vulnerable preschool children and their families.” Child Care of Southwest Florida is a proxy group for the USDA meals program.

Duncombe’s amenities are inspected by three totally different businesses: the Florida Department of Children and Families, Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc. and the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County

On prime of the meals inspections, DCF conducts common inspections. Belinda Duncombe can also be contracted at each amenities with the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, which helps low-revenue households pay for baby care by means of the School Readiness program. She stated ELC additionally conducts inspections of her amenities.

She stated she all the time needed to open a number of Laugh N Learn places in Manatee County. Next, she’s hoping to open a middle in Parrish, the place she stated plenty of households are on ready lists for day-care amenities.

Duncombe signed a two-yr lease for Laugh N Learn Academy II as a result of although she’s hopeful, she’s nervous about whether or not her 5-star score success can overcome the J’s Bright Learners reputation. But by way of phrase-of-mouth promoting, direct advertising and social media, she is striving to change individuals’s minds concerning the facility.

“I’m going to make sure kids are taken care of well; that’s our goal,” she stated. “Let’s laugh and learn; that’s our name. They’re going to play and learn at the same time.”

Herald employees author Jessica De Leon contributed to this story.

Address: 5304 Seventh St. E.

Phone quantity: 941-201-6432

Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday by means of Friday

Ages accepted: 6 weeks to 12 years previous



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