Former Little Scholars director speaks out on closure

The sudden closure of one of Marshalltown’s largest daycare facilities shocked parents and employees when it was announced last weekend, and now, the former director who made the decision has weighed in on what happened and why she felt it was her only option.

During a recent interview with the Times-Republican, Lisa Hines, who owned and operated Little Scholars Learning Center at 713 S. 12th St., said a variety of factors led up to the closure, including some familiar to almost everyone. Recent inflation and cost of living increases created a situation where staff needed to be paid more, and in turn, taxes and child care costs went up along with it.

There were some situations, she added, where parents who made just enough money that they wouldn’t qualify for child care assistance block grants, but she wanted to help them anyway.

“I’m kind of a softie. I want to take care of everybody, and I can’t,” Hines said.

By September, Hines said she began to realize the situation had taken a turn for the worse, and she became emotional as she discussed the matter.

“This has always been my life’s passion, and it’s hard sometimes to get other people to see it and get onboard with what you’re doing,” she said. “I think the struggle came to trying to chase down parents to make payments. I think it just took away my joy.”

Running the center, Hines said, became a “chore,” and she struggled to tell parents they could no longer bring their kids to Little Scholars due to nonpayment. When asked about the abruptness of the closure, she said the center was paying over $4,000 a week in taxes and could no longer bring in enough revenue to keep it sustainable.

“I couldn’t have paid everybody another week, and that’s hard,” she said. “It’s a vicious cycle with the cost of living increasing at this rapid rate. I use this example all the time. We used to pay $9 for a tray of chicken. That’s now $16. Trying to accommodate that and serve good meals and pay better employees, it just compiled to the point where I wasn’t even able to sustain it. And it’s hard to admit that.”

Addressing a note that was sent to employees, which some who were previously interviewed felt blamed them for the closure, Hines said she had some great staff but also had others who “threw her under the bus” and didn’t take the job as seriously as she had hoped.

After spending most of her adult life in childcare, Hines isn’t sure what her next step will be, but she has had conversations with individuals who may be interested in reopening LIttle Scholars in Marshalltown in some form going forward. According to a Facebook post, the Little Scholars campus in Conrad, which Hines also owned, has been rebranded as Lil’ Comets Childcare and sold to Erin, Jaycin and Daryl Cross.

“It’s very disappointing to be at this point,” Hines said. “I’m just disappointed in myself that I didn’t do a good enough job.”


Contact Robert Maharry

at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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