The idea to provide a nurturing and play-based daycare for children of varying economic and ethnic backgrounds started 50 years ago and has grown since.
La Puerta de los Niños was created as a nonprofit under the Unitarian Church in Albuquerque with a child-centered philosophy, allowing children to build on their strengths and grow at their own rates according to their abilities. The philosophy also includes allowing children to make decisions, plan activities and take responsibility for themselves and their actions.
“It was a group of moms who broke off and made this happen,” said Sarah Torrey, La Puerta’s executive director for the past 12 years recalling the center’s history. “Children are free to express themselves how they want using play-based curriculum. They don’t know that they’re growing and learning at that time. But by the time they’re moving on, they will know their numbers and they will have started early literacy.”
With a $1 million loan from The Loan Fund, La Puerta leaders purchased a building on the West Side, which allowed them to expand their program to children ages three months to six years. While they had to cut back on service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will eventually serve 115 children.
Prior to coming to The Loan Fund, Torrey said they went to several different banks but couldn’t get a loan despite having great financial records and a steady revenue stream.
“The Loan Fund has helped us remain successful and keep us afloat,” Torrey said. We’re only going to get stronger.”