My Little Planet Learning Center and Child Care Center of Kennewick recently acquired a new building for its growing preschool and day care operations.
The property at 3000 W. Kennewick Ave. has been vacant with “No Trespassing” signs taped up in the windows for the past few years. It was a Trios urgent care clinic before closing in 2017.
Now, the 5,340-square-foot building built in 1991 is in the process of being reenvisioned and redesigned to become a preschool and child care center. TJ’s General Contractors LLC of Pasco is the general contractor for the $479,000 project.
My Little Planet owners Ana and Simon Samaniego are the new building owners. They bought the building on a bargain and sale deed for $700,000. The value for the property in 2022 was $903,500. Homesnap.com reported the list price had originally been set at $1.15 million.
“Currently, we are working on the plan to make rooms, close rooms and open areas so the kids can have good space,” Ana said. The empty building has a network of offices, exam rooms and other spaces better suited to a medical care facility.
The Samaniegos aren’t new to converting spaces for their needs.
My Little Planet began in 2012 as an in-home day care that Ana started when her kids were small.
They converted their garage to support more space for the day care. Then, as their family and budding business grew, they moved into a bigger house and later acquired another house – and later another.
The two additional properties became what are today the My Little Planet Learning Center (a preschool) at 316 S. Auburn St. and Child Care Center (a day care) at 711 E. Eighth Ave., both in Kennewick.
Samaniego said that in addition to the potential to grow, she saw the need to move the hub of operations somewhere more centralized. She feels that the new location will attract a broader customer base, in addition to offering full-service day care resources in a part of town that doesn’t have many options presently.
“It’s not an easy business, but the best you can do is to help others, to help the kids,” she said.
Ana grew up working in her parents’ grocery store in Mexico where she says she developed her customer service and interpersonal skills from an early age.
Of expanding My Little Planet, she said, “I want to grow because I found my passion, I found my career and I love business.”
Ana said some families have been with Little Planet for eight-plus years as their kids grow up and cycle through the programs.
The My Little Planet website touts that it was one of the first day care centers to be accredited by the Washington Early Achievers Quality Rating Program, joining in 2014.
From September to June, it uses Teaching Strategies Gold curriculum, which, according to the My Little Planet website, is “practically based on creating a community in the classroom, taking a positive guide in the behavior of the children, teaching intentionally and responsibly, always evaluating the learning of the children.”
My Little Planet offers preschool in both English and Spanish.
“I want to make smart kids,” Ana said. “The kids have fun and learn another language, it’s good for their brains … The best time to teach the kids is when they’re zero to 5 years old.”
She said the most heartwarming moments come when the kids help each other out and watching how they become like family to one another in the homelike environment that My Little Planet provides.
High-quality fresh food is another way the Samaniegos bring their pupils together.
She said her husband, Simon, a registered nurse, enjoys shopping for the fresh fruits and vegetables that make up much of their meals and that the kids love to eat.
“All the love you can give to the kids – they aren’t your kids, but you love them, and it helps them to grow,” She said.
“Two things I have to do always is make the kids feel secure and make the parents feel secure … They trust in you that you’re there, so they are safe going to work and nothing’s going to happen,” she added.
The couple hope to open the new facility within three to four months.
Ana said they applied for a Washington state grant to help cover some of the overhead startup costs.
“If the state helps, then we can make better facilities. We will make this one nice and start fixing up the other ones,” she said.
She said Gesa Credit Union helped finance the purchase.
My Little Planet plans to hire additional teachers for the new facility, and Ana noted that they will require degrees. She’s working on her own, taking classes at Columbia Basin College to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Go to: mylittleplanetlearningcenter.com.
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