High-quality childcare. It creates safe and healthy families, and its impacts has a ripple effect out to society at large. High-quality childcare not only helps children develop skills they will need for success in school and in their lives outside of school. It promotes emotional, social, cognitive, ethical and creative development. In its role as the child’s primary caregiver, and the starting point for collaborative working relationships with other community services working with the child, its importance cannot be overstated.
These factors were at the heart of Irini and Halim Mikheal’s decision to open Lullaboo Nursery and Childcare in 2008. Lullaboo is the Ontario-based, 100 per cent Canadian-owned and operated establishment, whose goal is to provide top notch education and development to Canadian children. Based on child development principles, Lullaboo’s child-care centers on the concept of interaction and exploration during play as a natural way of learning. As children interact with materials and their peers, they clarify and extend their understanding of the world.
Born out of Necessity
Lullaboo was born out of necessity. While looking for childcare for their first daughter, Irini, a Professional Engineer for a worldwide organization and her husband Halim, a Professional Accountant for a Blue-Chip corporation, simply were not satisfied with the service and quality offered in child care.
Determined to change this, Lullaboo built and opened its first center in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and was quickly at capacity. Professional service to families was the primary objective. Appreciating the effort that families have to endure to make life and work balance was crucial to the relationship with each family that Lullaboo served.
Lullaboo quickly expanded to three centres with the opening of two custom designed centres in Vaughan and Mississauga in 2010, and expanding the original centre in 2014. In 2015, Lullaboo’s first Brampton centre was established. Today, Lullaboo serves communities in Brampton, the Toronto Beaches area, Mississauga Heartland, Cambridge, and Bradford, and plans for openings in Milton, Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, Oakville, Kitchener, Guelph, Markham are well under way.
This successful expansion—five-year revenue growth of 262 per cent—was noticed by Canadian Business, landing them on the 19th spot of the 500 of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies in 2019. “This achievement reflects the strength of our service and the dedication of our team,” says Halim Mikhael. “Our growth strategy was always based on increasing the supply of childcare in Ontario organically through new licensed spaces. In our view, creating purpose driven, high quality environments must start from a blank canvass.”
Vibrant Communities for Children
Lullaboo focussed on markets with attributes that attract families and are filled with vibrant communities for children. “Taking the time to personally visit neighbourhoods and observe surroundings of each new site is crucial to site selection,” says Mikhael. “However, growth doesn’t just come from picking the right locations. The organization has to be prepared to scale. As tasks increased and jobs were created, the structure of each job was surrounded by the principle of scalability. Are the tasks assigned able to be scaled after 5 sites, after 10 sites, at 25 sites? What tools could be put in place as we open Lullaboo’s 8th campus that will allow the organization to continue to expand up to 25? We asked ourselves these questions at every step of the way.”
Coming soon to Brampton North is Lullaboo’s new Wanless Campus, what will be the largest Childcare Center in Canada once licensed. Being built in Northwest Brampton where childcare costs to household income is the highest in the country for families, this site will bring relief and comfort to working parents.
Described by Mikhael as “the height of our evolution,” Wanless is the product of 3.5 years of planning and 1.5 years of construction, and years of expertise, passion, and heart.
“To say this will be Lullaboo’s flagship location is an understatement. This will be the benchmark for childcare across the country.”
The campus will offer space for ages zero through four, with infant, toddler and preschool programming. Offering times will vary to accommodate the needs of the community. Classrooms will be outfitting with state-of-the-art finishes that will provide a stimulating environment for children. The facility will also be equipped with the technology needed to allow educators and families to interact seamlessly around the well-being of their child.
“As in each of Lullaboo’s sites, wholesome organic based meals will be offered in a state-of-the-art kitchen with full time chefs,” says Mikheal.
The ability to trust your childcare provider with your children, while engaged in progressive employment that allows for a satisfying quality of life is the ultimate objective. “Lullaboo’s goal in this scenario is to provide high quality care—period,” says Mikhael.
Canada-wide early learning and child care system
The Lullaboo team are closely watching the Canadian Government’s accessible daycare program announced in 2022. “Affordable childcare is definitely a smart idea,” says Mikhael. “Government policy that is introduced that can subsidize the cost of high-quality programs for families and parents is a great idea. However, competing on low costs in childcare is dangerous. Lullaboo will always strive to deliver high-quality programming and participate in government programs that will help families achieve the balance they need.”
Mikhael cautions that policy needs to be sustainable and scalable, however. “While these programs are created, they also cannot be short-sighted. Built in checks and balances that ensures affordability remains in tact while delivering high quality programming. Increasing the supply of childcare must be included as a priority, as price pressures will never be solved without equalizing supply and demand.”
A Foundation Built in Trust
When asked why parents continually put their trust in Lullaboo, Mikhael says, “At the end of the day, parents must trust the people and the place they leave their children. No other factor is as important then this. Driving genuine, wholesome participation across the organization contributes to this. This trust is what forms the basis of the relationship between Lullaboo and families. It guides interactions on a daily basis and contributes to the environment around each child.”
At Business Elite Canada, we frequently ask entrepreneurs what is on the horizon for their company and the answers are almost always exciting plans for expansion, growth, or diversification. When speaking with the Mikhaels, we posed the same question, and their answer was unique: to hit the $1,000,000 milestone of giving to Sick Kids. Keeping children at the heart of their business. It’s at the heart of this company and has propelled Lullaboo to one of the best childcare centres in Canada.
For more information, please visit www.lullaboo.ca