Written by Peggy Pusateri
Novemberr 01, 2011
Tucked away off College Avenue in Decatur sits an office and childcare option built for the modern family. In a naturally-lit playroom designed just for them, young children toddle, explore and make friends, and every so often, their parents take a break from laptops and phone calls, step around a corner and peek in on the little ones.
Bean Work Play Café is not your typical childcare setup. This co-space, located on New Street, was designed with today’s professional in mind. While children are cared for in a nurturing, safe, fun setting, parents sit a short distance away, fielding conference calls, typing up proposals and researching projects in a quiet, business environment. The work and play options offer convenience for parents who have flexible needs, including the self-employed, part-time workers, telecommuters and work at home parents.
With wireless printers and Internet, desks, a conference room and phone pods for privacy, Bean is a small office away from the office.
Eric Key and his wife use Bean’s care services for their one-and-a-half-year-old son, Henry, and Bean’s workspace for Key’s business. He describes Bean as an “in between” daycare option.
Though the family lives in the West End, Key’s wife works just outside Decatur, and three afternoons a week, Key, who is self employed, heads to Bean with Henry and often stays until closing, even after his wife has picked up their son.
“There’s no real concentration of work at home,” he explains. “When Henry’s napping and I’m working from home, what I can get accomplished is limited to short bursts. When I’m at Bean, it’s complete concentration, so I can really get to the meat of the work.”
Early Learning Philosophy
Rather than provide traditional childcare services, Bean offers play-based early learning inspired by the Reggio approach to preschool education. The approach is based on discovery and exploration and centered on the idea that children learn best through play.
With a Ph.D. and a professional background in developmental and cognitive psychology, Joanne Deocampo, Bean’s learning coordinator, holds expertise in child development. Deocampo explains that while Bean encourages self-directed play for each child, it also works closely with parents to ensure a smooth transition for children unaccustomed to a childcare setting. Staff members focus on building a warm, comforting, secure environment and letting kids find their own play interests.
Born out of Experience
Bean sprang from the imagination of proprietor Adela Yelton, who, as a mother of three young sons, found it a challenge to find reliable, part-time childcare when she needed to work. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if I could have a place to work and have my kids close to me while they were engaged in play?’ I discovered that other parents felt the same way.”
Yelton opened Bean in March 2011, with the primary goal of making life easier for flexible-working parents.
“Bean’s been great. It’s been a huge lifesaver to us,” says Lianne Deren. “It’s a great option when you’re trying to balance work and family.”
Deren and her husband discovered Bean in May after moving back to Atlanta. They live in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood with their two children but make the trip to Bean five days a week for their two-year-old son, Chase. Deren says Bean is the only work-play option she knows of. She appreciates both the “Zen” setting in Bean’s quiet workspace and the ability to have her son nearby.
“To be able to peek in on him and see how he’s doing is very reassuring,” she says.
A Unique Model
Bean’s model is fairly simple. For a monthly membership fee, parents get access to co-working space, phone pods and a conference room and can bring their children, ages 1-6 years, for an hourly childcare rate of $7 per child. Non members may use Bean’s services at an hourly rate of $11 per child. Children ages 2 and up can attend everyday, including Saturday, for up to 4 hours per day. Members can leave the facility during 9a-1p.
As a participant in the Emory Childcare Network, Bean will waive its $25 registration fee for new memberships and honor a 10% discount on childcare services.
Soon, Bean will be enhancing its service offering for families. Beginning in May, it will offer an option more akin to flexible preschool for families seeking care on a daily or near-daily basis.
And, Bean offers extra-curricular activities for both parents and children. Little ones can take classes in subjects such as Mandarin Language, Chinese Yoga, Art and Children’s Literature Circle. Mom and Dad can take a much-deserved break at one of Bean’s spa evenings or build contacts with other professional parents.
On a Sunday afternoon in October, Bean hosted a networking event for women entrepreneurs. The event is testament to Yelton’s vision of Bean as more than a childcare and workplace option: “It’s a place for parents to connect.”
Bean Work Play Café
134 New St., Decatur, GA 30030
Open M-F 9-6, Sat. 9-1