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Cheryl Silva began a day care business out of her home in 1993, caring for six children, as she saw firsthand the difficulties of systems where parents earn too much income for assistance but not enough to place children in affordable pre and after school programs.
Because of her love of caring for children, she and her husband decided that this was something they would spend their lives building. In 1995 Cheryl and Manny Silva opened their first day care center, Silva’s Youth of Today, in East Hartford, CT, with 35 children, caring for infants less than one year old to children up to age five.
In 1998 they opened a second location, adjacent to 801 Silver Lane, which allowed them to accommodate a total of 100 pre and after school children. In 2000 they expanded their first location at 775 Silver Lane so the total number of enrolled children increased to 161 children with 24 staff members.
In 2002 the Silvas were looking to move to a larger building due to increasing demand for affordable daycare. The community perception was that Silva’s was a superior choice for parents because of the center’s involvement in state-assisted payment programs and because the center was named an accredited center by the National Association Early Childhood Youth Council. This status made it clear that they needed to resolve inefficiencies caused by operating two side by side centers and that they needed to consolidate into one site.
During this difficult time, the Silvas sought help at the SBA office in Hartford and also sought SCORE counseling to re-work their business plan. They also spoke with former SBA district director, Greta Johansson who connected them with a lending partner. Silva’s found a suitable location at 656 Silver Lane, East Hartford (down the street from where they already were housed) which had previously housed a Frank’s Nursery business. They purchased this real estate and made upgrades using an SBA 504 loan they received in 2002 from the New England Certified Development Corporation to buy and improve the building at 656 Silver Lane. In 2008 New Alliance Bank (now, First Niagara Bank) financed a further expansion of the building, which was accomplished by SBA Certified Development Company working hand in hand with First Niagara Bank to allow for the most recent expansion.
This loan allowed the Silvas to not only expand but to increase enrollment to a maximum capacity of 237 children - 170 preschool children during the day and 67 after school children. The state of Connecticut has worked with Silvas to expand the number of readiness program slots available to them. The Silvas are now in great financial shape and they are living their dream, providing excellent and affordable child care for low income parents. They are now investing in staff to boost retention rates and are also focusing on continuing education in order to be in compliance for continued accreditation. They currently look after 350 kids and continue to obtain local grants for playgrounds, music rooms and lavatories.