Carrie Rengers

Day care business to double in size with four sites

Erika and Tony Tomlin pose with their kids, from left to right: Avery, 6 months, Aaliyah, 5, Tre, 7, August, 2, and Ariane , 4, at their child care business, Kiddy Kollege. They will be expanding with two new locations. (Dec. 7, 2017)
Erika and Tony Tomlin pose with their kids, from left to right: Avery, 6 months, Aaliyah, 5, Tre, 7, August, 2, and Ariane , 4, at their child care business, Kiddy Kollege. They will be expanding with two new locations. (Dec. 7, 2017) The Wichita Eagle

However busy you might think you are, there’s an excellent chance Erika Tomlin can top you.

Not that she’s competing. It’s just her life.

The Kiddy Kollege owner is doubling the number of day care sites she has with new ones in west Wichita and Derby for a total of four.

That’s just the beginning of understanding her schedule, though.

Tomlin was a college student earning degrees in accounting and human resources in 2008 when she started a home day care to make money.

“My mom allowed me to do it in her basement,” Tomlin says. “I put myself through college.”

By the time she graduated, she had a 1-year-old of her own, and she didn’t want to go into a career and have someone else watch him.

“Once I graduated, I couldn’t leave,” Tomlin says.

She returned to school to get a degree in early childhood education, and she began to grow her business.

“It’s been grassroots.”

She’s also been growing her family with five children in seven years.

“We’re nuts. I know,” she says. “I have a genuine, authentic love for babies.”

Tomlin started her business in an urban area initially but didn’t have the kind of growth she wanted until she moved west to 1860 N. Tyler Road.

“We put every penny in Tyler Road, and we had a great reception out west,” Tomlin says.

Then, she says, “We had this surge of moms who were pregnant.”

They were already her customers with other children, but then Tomlin had to open overflow space at 383 N. Country Acres to handle the increase of kids.

Her Tyler day care can accommodate 45 children, and Country Acres can handle 62.

Tomlin says she gets a lot of referrals, and she adds people to her waiting list, but spots never seem to come open.

“We just don’t have the space.”

So now, she’s opening a new Kiddy Kollege at 13100 W. 13th St. that is licensed for 59 children and another one in Derby at 1720 N. Osage that is licensed for about 60.

Stephanie Wise of John T. Arnold Associates is handling the deals.

Both new day cares will open in February.

“The reason why we’re expanding so fast is just to meet need,” Tomlin says. “Now this next expansion that we’re going to undertake is going to be big.”

Tomlin says she’s handling the expansion in a few ways.

First, she’s promoting from within.

“That is the biggest struggle, because I’m very particular about who I have work for me.”

Tomlin says about 75 percent of her staff members have been with her since she opened or from her first year.

“I take very good care of my staff.”

Also, her husband, Tony, is leaving his job at Spirit AeroSystems at the end of this year to work full time at Kiddy Kollege.

“My husband is a huge help,” Tomlin says.

Finally, there’s prayer.

“I’m very much relying on faith,” Tomlin says.

She says in addition to following state regulations for day cares, she follows her own policies and principles of caring for her children.

“I am taking care of everybody’s babies,” Tomlin says.

“I have made it my business that if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it for real.”

Each evening after work, Tomlin says she gets dinner and then bathes her children before tackling paperwork for her business.

“At 9 o’clock, I’m back on the clock.”

She is not complaining.

“I get to see my kids all day. I get to love on other people’s babies all day,” Tomlin says.

“It doesn’t feel like work.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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