Bright Beginnings Learning Center opening soon

While they don't expect to open their doors for a few months, owners Carolyn Jones and Nicole Uher are looking forward to welcoming students and families to their new preschool and daycare facility in St. Joseph. The two women, both with roots in the village, hope to open the Bright Beginnings Learning Center sometime this June.

Located at 501 Peters Dr. in St. Joseph, the owners plan to offer child care services for kids from six weeks old through age twelve. The duo are remodeling and working hard to prepare the facility for mandatory inspections by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the public health district and the State Fire Marshall. Uher expects the inspection and permit process to take 90 days.

St. Joe business news "We will only be opening half of the building to start," said co-owner and director Nicole Uher, who has been working with Jones on the project for the past two years. "In this phase there will be four classrooms: one infant room ages six weeks through fourteen months, one toddler room ages fifteen months through three years, one preschool room ages three years through five years, and one after school/summer room for children ages five years through twelve years."

Uher says they will offer an after school program for children ages five through twelve.

"We will have one of our staff members walk over to St. Joseph Grade school and pick up the children in our program, then walk back with them to our facility," Uher said. "While in our care children will be able to complete homework, play games, and play outside on our playground all supervised by staff of course."

"We believe children learn best through play and communication with their peers"
Children enrolled at the school will also be allowed to attend our program on days out of school and during breaks in the spring and summer.

Uher had been licensed home child care provider for 5 years. She credits her start in the profession back to when she was a teen offering babysitting services.

Meanwhile her business partner, Jones, who was raised in St. Joseph, has been doing licensed home childcare for over 20 years.

"We looked all over Champaign county for the perfect place for our new adventure. There are tons of buildings out there, but it takes something special to run a daycare as there are many requirements by DCFS and Public Health that have to be followed," Uher said. "When we stumbled across this building on Peters Drive, we knew instantly it was meant to be as it was located in the perfect location near the schools.

"Also, it was built in a wonderful layout that is needed for our business."

Uher later learned that her grandfather farmed the land where the structure now stands.

"My Dad and Grandpa have since passed away so getting this land back in the family is very special to me," she explained. "(Considering) my Dad was also raised in St. Joe so it was on my list of places to consider."

It was quickly a no-brainer for the pair who made to make an offer to purchase the property.

"We first looked at this land in November of 2019. We made an offer fairly quick after, but it took about a year to get things settled as there were drainage issues that needed to be corrected before we could take ownership."

Once DCFS completes their inspection, Uher said they will make the final decision on how many children we are able to serve in each class. She anticipate having the capacity to provide services for 62 children in phase one of Bright Beginnings' operation.

The business, which is independently owned and operated, will accept CCRS and DCFS vouchers for families who qualify for their programs.

Bright Beginnings will follow a curriculum that is approved by Illinois Early Learning Standards. There will also be many play based activities.

"We believe children learn best through play and communication with their peers," Uher said.

The center is not taking applications or issuing guaranteed spots at this time. The owners plan to initiate that once they have secured all the permits needed to run as a licensed facility. In the mean time, Bright Beginning has created a wait list for parents interested in enrolling their kids. For more information concerning enrollment send an email to

St. Joseph-Ogden High School 2024 baseball seniors