24 Apr Kiddieville has rich history of caring for children
Families in the 501 have relied on Kiddieville for more than 30 years and have seen the child care center grow from serving 12 kids to an established, family business.
Diane (White) Payton started the center in February 1981 in Conway. Her daughters – Rikki and her husband Aaron, and Karri and her husband Richard – as well as her son, Nick, plus 10 grandchildren have all attended Kiddieville. Both of her daughters continue to work at Kiddieville. Diane is married to Kenny Payton.
Diane’s family extends beyond her immediate family to all the children who have attended Kiddieville over the years. “Some were here as newborns all the way to when they were just too old to come any more and some who attended Kiddieville as children have returned to work for Diane during the years,” said Deana Mcneil, who works at the child care center. “Even more impressive, several children who once attended here are now bringing their children here.”
Diane also feels a special bond with the teachers and support staff who have worked at Kiddieville. “I guess the teachers have been like Diane’s sisters and brothers and some like her own children,” said Deana. “This family has been founded on the belief that we all have the same Father – which is GOD – and Diane would be the first to tell you that without Him none of this would have happened.”
Within three years after opening the child care center, Diane purchased 10 acres of property three miles from the original location and operated a center with a capacity of 175 children. In 1990, she purchased a small building in Greenbrier and started the second Kiddieville. In 1994, Diane sold the Conway location to concentrate on the Greenbrier location. In the last 20 years, there have been several expansions at Kiddieville, which now has a capacity of 293 children.
“Of course all of this came from lots of hard work and long days,” Deana said, explaining that Diane put in long hours. “Over the years it was not unusual for Diane to be at Kiddieville all weekend doing construction, painting or moving whole classrooms around. She has always been a hands-on person. Diana did whatever it took to keep the center open so that children could have a safe, Christian learning environment.”
The childcare business has seen majors changes over the years. Centers are no longer just a place for children to stay while parents work but they are learning facilities that prepare children for kindergarten. In order to keep up with all the changes, Diane and her staff attend workshops, conventions and classes to stay abreast of what is new in the field.
“The stories that could be told about the children and teachers that have passed through these doors are numerous,” Deana said. “Over the years there have been so many joyous occasions and so many miracles. God has touched the lives of the family of Kiddieville…We have seen sick children get healthy, homeless children get homes and hurting children receive help. We have seen children have a good Christmas when everyone thought Santa would forget them.”
Deana believes that the work at Kiddieville is “a calling from God.”
Diane and her staff remained committed to the children served at Kiddieville and look forward to the years ahead. “Kiddieville will continue to teach children not only about ABCs and 1-2-3 and about which color is red and which is blue, but more importantly about God and who He is and what He has done and will do in their lives.”