A Child's Place
1211 Walton Bluff Parkway
11155 Ridgefield Parkway
Second place: Primrose School
Third place: St. Luke's Preschool
Denise McDonald couldn't find the right child care for her son. So she left her career in corporate America and started her own.
A Child's Place first opened in 1984, and McDonald works with her daughter Kristen Hensel and son Michael Fust Jr. to operate locations in Midlothian and Henrico. It's been a family business since day one, and Hensel says that informs everything they do.
"Not only are we family-owned and operated, but we provide the family atmosphere for everybody to feel comfortable when they're leaving their child with us," says Hensel, who grew up with the business and does everything from managing classrooms to making grilled cheese for hungry little mouths at lunchtime.
Programs include day care for infants and toddlers, preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, and junior kindergarten for 4- and 5-year-olds. Before- and after-school care is available for kids ages 5-13, along with day camp during the summers.
That first day is often more challenging and anxiety-inducing for the parent, and the team at A Child's Place does everything they can to make parents comfortable.
"On that first day we do invite them to take a little extra time and not make it such a quick drop-off," Hensel says. "A lot of times moms, especially with babies, will call every hour. We tell them that's what we're here for. That's our job, to do whatever we can to make them feel comfortable."