Last July, when Erika Ford first put up a sign at Wissahickon Church, 5245 Ridge Avenue, announcing the opening of DAAS Academy Learning Center, her phone started to ring.
“Parents returning to work are eager to find a loving, caring, safe daycare for their children,” said Ford. “Their first question is about Covid. They want to know if everyone on our staff is vaccinated. Yes, we are!”
With over twenty years of early childhood education experience, this is Ford’s first entrepreneurial venture. “Twenty-seven years ago, I started as a volunteer in my son’s daycare and went on to get my degree in early childhood education. I then taught pre-school, kindergarten and served as director of four Philadelphia daycare centers. It has always been my goal to open my own center.”
Ford’s dedication and passion for early childhood education have not gone unnoticed. “Erika is just a wonderful person and I am so excited to have her here,” said Pastor Charlie Jones of Wissahickon Church, a partner congregation of Roxborough Church. “Around ten years ago, she taught two of my children. Back then, Erika expressed her aspiration to open her own daycare, and when I had the opportunity, I gave her a call. It was perfect timing. It’s a relief to have someone who is so dedicated to the community.”
The Church previously had another daycare center which closed due to the pandemic. “We had to pass hurdles with the City and State to launch a new daycare program,” said Jones, “It’s a joy to have Erika with us.”
DAAS Academy is a family affair in more ways than one. The name DAAS is a combination of the initials of Ford and her three children’s middle names. Her daughter Lauren, 23, works at the Academy as Ford’s assistant while earning her degree in early childhood education. Ford also has a 12 year-old daughter at home and a 27 year-old son.
“My philosophy of caring for children of all ages is really simple,” said Ford. “All children, no matter their age, race, gender, or economic background, should experience adequate early learning opportunities."
She adds, "My staff and I here at DAAS Academy Learning Center stand on that very same philosophy every day as we strive to set the stage for those experiences to happen for each and every child that comes through our doors.”
With so many daycare providers, how is a parent to choose? Ford advises, “Do your homework and research. Take your children with you when you visit daycare facilities to observe how they respond to the environment. Children are the best judges.”
Located in Wissahickon Church’s beautiful Fellowship Hall, DAAS Academy provides full time daycare for infants and children up to five years of age, as well as before and after school care for children five to twelve. The children are separated by age to provide appropriate care for all. Next summer, they will offer day camp.
For more information, contact Erika at 215-487-DAAS (3227).