Helping to fill the child care void

RLF Spotlight

Little Explorers Child Care Center | Ghent, MN

Helping to fill the child care void in SW MN

As a young girl, Jamie Gillund knew that she had a special connection with children. She would often be seen walking around with a baby doll, taking care of it with utmost attention and care. As she grew older, her eagerness to babysit only intensified, and she found herself drawn to the idea of working with children. With her heart set on this path, Jamie decided to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

While attending college, Jamie also worked at the campus child care center, where she discovered her true passion. She was immediately captivated by the joy and wonder that children brought into her life, and she knew that she wanted to make a difference in their lives. Soon after graduating, Jamie opened an in-home daycare in Ghent, where she has been caring for children for the past 17 years.

But Jamie’s dream was to open a childcare center. “I loved working with a team who had the same ambitions as I,” she said. “It made it a perfect place to work.”

During the summer of 2020, Jamie decided it was time to take hold of that dream and make it a reality. The communities around her were in a childcare crisis and she, herself, received calls daily for both full-time and drop-in care but Jamie was maxed out her childcare capacity caring for 12 children. Unable to find an appropriate place for the childcare center, Jamie and her husband, Kurt, decided to build from the ground up. Together, they designed the center Jamie had always dreamed of. The doors officially opened in October of 2021. When asked if she would change anything Jamie’s comment was, “I would have made it bigger to allow for more infant and toddler room space.” Currently, Jamie has a waiting list of at least 40 children in need of childcare.

Jamie explained that although the childcare center is situated in Ghent, most of their families come from Marshall. These families commute twice a day to drop off and pick up their children. Jamie also mentioned that staffing can be a challenge, especially during winter. Many of her employees are college students who prefer not to drive during harsh winter weather.

Each classroom at the center is led by a teacher who has at least two years of college education and two years of experience working in a center setting. However, Jamie mentioned that the State has been lenient in granting variances, allowing them to work at the center while gaining experience. Jamie also has several high school students from Minneota who come at the end of the day to work as aides in the classrooms. Currently, the center employs 20 staff members, with an average of 12 staff members present per shift. The preschool curriculum used at the center is the same as the one used in the Lynd school. The goal of the center is to prepare children for kindergarten and provide a safe environment for them while their parents are at work.

Not only does Jamie get to do what she has always wanted, but she can help her community and the children within it grow. “It’s so rewarding knowing that I’m helping out so many families and love seeing all the children come in daily.” Through her love and devotion, Jamie has created a nurturing and safe environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive.

Jamie and Kurt discussed their daycare project with the State Bank of Taunton who became their primary lender. Helping to fill the gap was the Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) with the Revolving Loan Fund. Jamie says the process was seamless and appreciated the communication from the SRDC throughout.

The center is located at 218 S Collins Street in Ghent and is open Monday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. To find out more information call 507-870-5101 or check out their website: or visit their Facebook page.

For more information regarding the Revolving Loan Fund head over to the Southwest Regional Development Commission’s website: SRDC Southwest Regional Development Commission | Slayton MN (


Jamie Gillund opened Little Explorers Child Care Center in 2021

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