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Children enjoy interactive activities at the Hive.

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Happy Hive

Childcare facility provides un-bee-lievable options, flexibility

Families are buzzing about The Hive – a Northlake facility, offering peace of mind for parents and a fun, stimulating environment for children.  

The upscale playcare facility offers flexible, drop-in childcare by the hour, providing parents the opportunity to run errands, enjoy a date night or simply take a nap. 

“The intent is to support flexible needs, such as shift workers, parents who need just a day or two of childcare or even an hour here and there,” co-owner Jennifer Lankford said. “You can go to the doctor by yourself or the grocery store. There are moms who haven’t had a break in years because of the pandemic. We can give them that sense of self back.” 

Lankford and co-owner Alysha Clarke worked together for years as pediatric nurses at Cook Children’s Medical Center, and they developed the concept for The Hive after struggling to find childcare for their own kids. 

“I was looking for something different,” Clarke said. “I was working a night shift one or two days a week, and my husband works 24 on and 48 off as a firefighter, so I never needed true daycare.”

Clarke said she and Lankford were discussing options when Lankford suggested they find a way to fill the childcare gap themselves.  

“I’m stuck in my routine, and I’d been at the hospital for years, so the thought of doing anything different, let alone going out on our own, was nauseating,” Clarke said with a laugh. “But Jennifer is the opposite, and we began dreaming.” 

The friends began researching and outlining every aspect of the facility, drawing on their medical experience and knowledge of child development. 

“We didn’t want it to look like a daycare,” Lankford said. “We wanted the kids to have a feeling of awe, like you’re walking in a big garden and you’re the size of an ant. You want those ‘wow’ elements for the kids because the first thing you have to have for a child to trust you is appeal.” 

Clarke said the architect and the firm’s design team helped bring all their ideas to life, creating specific spaces for all ages and abilities. 

The Hive is a screen-free facility with a focus on developmental play with a purpose. There are planned activities, including crafts, and caregivers facilitate playtime that incorporates exercise and use of gross motor skills. 

Clarke noted they also have different expectations of staff than most childcare facilities. 

“We expect staff to interact and play with the kids, not just supervise,” she said. 

In addition to the required state training, Clarke and Lankford also ensure all staff complete emotional sensory training and are educated on caring for special needs children. 

“My whole professional career has been taking care of special needs children,” Clarke said, “so we wanted to ensure we could continue that here. We can say ‘yes’ to a lot of people who other care facilities would turn away. The fact that we can give those parents a break is huge.” 

Parents may make reservations for their children, but it’s not necessary. Drop-ins are welcome and can stay just a few minutes or all day. 

“We prorate down to the minute, so if mom needs to go to work and dad’s not home yet, she can drop off the kids,” Clarke said. “They may only be here 10 minutes; we’re truly drop-in.” 

The Hive, 1485 Commons Circle, Suite 200, in Northlake, is open 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

“The big thing for parents to know is we’re here for them,” Lankford said. “This is not traditional daycare; we’re not trying to take over that piece of it. It’s just to be the support and love on these kids.” 

  • The Hive fill children with wonder.
  • Children enjoy interactive activities at the Hive.
  • Co-owners Alysha Clarke and Jennifer Clarke opened the Hive after working together as nurses.
  • The staff at the Hive is expected to interact with children.