Gentry August 2010 : Page 68

gentrysiliconvalley Debbie Milner We are used to hearing about tech companies founded in Silicon Valley, but what about a company that has been revolutionizing childcare for the past 22 years? As usual, it all started with an idea—in this case, for flexible short-term childcare. Debbie Milner, the founder of KidsPark, is no stranger to the tech world, however. “Various jobs kept taking me further west,” says the Cleveland, Ohio, native. “I worked my way through the tech sector by learning computers on the job.” Soon enough, she was designing and implementing computer management sys-tems for production and inventory controls at Hewlett-Packard. “We fell in love with the area and the lifestyle,” Milner says of her eventual settlement in Los Gatos 23 years ago. “This is home.” But it was having daughter Rita that set Milner off on her next career path. “I came up with the idea when my daughter was about two years old. Juggling full-time work and a child was difficult, and I got to the point where I just needed a couple of hours to get things done,” she explains. Then the proverbial light bulb went off: Wouldn’t it be great for moms with a few errands to run to drop their child off at a fun, activity-rich, and trusted forum? All towards the goal of being able to then spend mindful,relaxed time together? And it worked. The first KidsPark location opened in 1998 68 GENTRY | AUGUST 2010 | www.gentrymagazine.com in San Jose offering licensed hourly childcare for children from ages 2 to 12 under the supervision of professional caregivers. Today, 13 centers are in business nationwide, with two more set to open this year.While its drop-in style (even on weekend nights) and affordability (about half the typical hourly rate for a babysitter) accommodate parents’ schedules, the kids benefit from the creativity that abounds with each center’s colorful array of activities, serving every interest from theater to sports to art and music. There’s even a Mountain of Energy for kids to run, climb, slide, and, well, just be kids. And the beautiful part is the career change brought Milner even more quality time with her daughter—what she wanted all along. KidsPark is also giving back to the community with the introduction of the KidsPark Sparkler micro-grant program, launched in February. “We see that doing art, dance, and music in the center has such a positive impact on kids,” says Milner. “We want to make sure that with all the budget cuts going on, the arts aren’t completely taken out of school.” In kind, these grants, awarded monthly, sponsor school assemblies or field trips dedicated to the arts. And applications are welcome! Learn more at www.kidspark.com. s —JENNIFER MASSONI PHOTOS: JACK HUTCHESON

Profile: Silicon Valley

Debbie Milner

We are used to hearing about tech companies founded in Silicon Valley, but what about a company that has been revolutionizing childcare for the past 22 years? As usual, it all started with an idea—in this case, for flexible short-term childcare.<br /> <br /> Debbie Milner, the founder of KidsPark, is no stranger to the tech world, however. “Various jobs kept taking me further west,” says the Cleveland, Ohio, native. “I worked my way through the tech sector by learning computers on the job.” Soon enough, she was designing and implementing computer management systems for production and inventory controls at Hewlett-Packard.<br /> <br /> “We fell in love with the area and the lifestyle,” Milner says of her eventual settlement in Los Gatos 23 years ago. “This is home.” But it was having daughter Rita that set Milner off on her next career path. “I came up with the idea when my daughter was about two years old. Juggling full-time work and a child was difficult, and I got to the point where I just needed a couple of hours to get things done,” she explains. <br /> <br /> Then the proverbial light bulb went off: Wouldn’t it be great for moms with a few errands to run to drop their child off at a fun, activity-rich, and trusted forum? All towards the goal of being able to then spend mindful, relaxed time together?<br /> <br /> And it worked. The first KidsPark location opened in 1998 in San Jose offering licensed hourly childcare for children from ages 2 to 12 under the supervision of professional caregivers.<br /> <br /> Today, 13 centers are in business nationwide, with two more set to open this year. While its drop-in style (even on weekend nights) and affordability (about half the typical hourly rate for a babysitter) accommodate parents’ schedules, the kids benefit from the creativity that abounds with each center’s colorful array of activities, serving every interest from theater to sports to art and music. There’s even a Mountain of Energy for kids to run, climb, slide, and, well, just be kids.<br /> <br /> And the beautiful part is the career change brought Milner even more quality time with her daughter—what she wanted all along. KidsPark is also giving back to the community with the introduction of the KidsPark Sparkler micro-grant program, launched in February. “We see that doing art, dance, and music in the center has such a positive impact on kids,” says Milner.<br /> <br /> “We want to make sure that with all the budget cuts going on, the arts aren’t completely taken out of school.” In kind, these grants, awarded monthly, sponsor school assemblies or field trips dedicated to the arts. And applications are welcome! Learn more at www.kidspark.com.

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