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Hidden Gems: Meet Claudia Arango of MiniArt Family Childcare

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claudia Arango. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Our business story begins in the 1980s in Cali, Colombia when I was very young and was starting my career. I wanted to study preschool education and child psychology, but my father did not want me to go into that field. As a very proud Colombian man, he wanted his daughters to become attorneys, doctors, or engineers – so he would only pay for our education if we were to choose those fields. I was always the one child out of four that would do what she wanted regardless obstacles, so I decided to follow my dreams and enrolled in school to study childhood education, Of course, I had to pay for university myself, so I asked my father if I could open a business in our home garage – he agreed. I opened MiniArt Daycare in our family’s home garage, with the help of my best friend and put myself through university. I loved every second of it and my father was proud of me – but still didn’t pay for my education. A few years later, I finished University, got married, and decided to start a family so I closed MiniArt and became a mother to two daughters. Fast forward to the year 2000, I found myself in Tampa, Florida, going through a divorce in a new country, with a language I did not understand. I found jobs in many industries but I was not able to practice my career because I didn’t know the language and didn’t have the education in the United States. After a few years, I finally was able to get some credentials and started working at a daycare in Tampa. I knew I was at the right place, my passion and love for the children was still alive after all those years. I worked at a few daycares in the area and became very close to many families. They would always be in awe of how their children connected and bonded with me, and they would be so thankful for the care I gave their little ones. I knew I had something special with the kids – after all, working with children had always been my dream – but I didn’t like how some daycares were running the classrooms and the quality of care that they provided. I already had some certifications under my belt, and I learned about the home daycare setting. I knew that if I took some more courses, I could start my own daycare at my own home – and that way provide the quality of care to the children that I would provide to my own daughters. After partying ways with one daycare, I decided to study for a few months and finish all the certifications – it was hard because I was unemployed with two daughters in college but I knew it would be worth it. I spent my savings setting up my home to become a daycare center and my daughters helped me with the licensing process. Finally, after 5 months of studying, preparing, applying, and building I had converted half of my home into a beautiful daycare. In November 2015, I was able to open my own daycare and MiniArt was back! We decided to call it the same as the one I had in Colombia because just as that one, this too was a labor of love in the struggle. The daycare started with only 6 kids and me as the only teacher. Two years later, we qualified for another license and was able to expand. These past 6 years have been amazing, full of love and support. I love having a home daycare because I become part of the child’s family, I see these families grow, these babies become kids and toddlers, and I do it all the same way I raised my daughters – with a lot of love. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Owning a small daycare has been amazing. We have been very lucky to have connected with really amazing, loving families. I have the support of my two daughters, who are investing their time and passion to help me with things that might be a little more difficult for me while working their own full-time jobs. I have to say that the biggest struggle is understanding the many aspects of running a business, I came to the U.S as a mid-age adult, not knowing the language, so sometimes I struggle to understand how businesses work here and all the different processes that we have to do as business owners. However, I rely on my daughters to help me with that part, they both have a master’s education and are very savvy and quick with business. I am a pro at taking care of the babies, my oldest daughter handles the business, marketing, and operations part of it, and my youngest daughter helps me with the brand. We make a great team and I know I am making them proud. 

We’ve been impressed with MiniArt Family Childcare, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
MiniArt Family Home Daycare, LLC is a family-owned home child care center committed to providing children with love-filled care and to encouraging each child to express themselves through language, art, music, and physical activity on developing the socialization and self-help skills. 

MiniArt Family Home Daycare first opened in 2015 as a DCF licensed family daycare home with a maximum capacity of six children. During the next three years, the daycare remained at capacity and was able to apply for a license to become a large family daycare home with a capacity 12 children in 2019. MiniArt currently serves children ages 0-5 years old and prepares them for the future by teaching the fundamentals in both English and Spanish, as well as social and interpersonal skills. MiniArt prides itself on having a loving and caring environment where children can learn, play and grow feeling free to express themselves. MiniArt also focuses on fostering relationships with the children’s parents, guardians, and/or families so that together they can raise the children in the best way possible. 

The home daycare has been at capacity and opened for six years. The families we have worked with trust their children to MiniArt because of the immediate bond that Mrs. Claudia and the teachers create with the kids. The children immediately feel at home, safe, and loved by their daycare, a differentiator that Mrs. Claudia plans to pass on to every teacher who will work with the center in the future. 

What does success mean to you? 

I define success by the success of our children. Each of their milestones is a success for me. I love hearing the stories of our kids excelling in kindergarten or primary school. I love hearing parents tell me that their child is speaking Spanish at home. I love seeing our kids develop right in front of our eyes. Sometimes going from shy kids to kids that are dancing, talking, and aren’t scared of anything. I also feel successful when parents and guardians say that I am an important part in their village. I appreciate families allowing me to help raise their babies and staying in touch as their families grow. 

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