The First Licensed Childcare + Coworking Space in the U.S.
INCREASING WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Two Birds’ mission is to empower working-families to build a work-life relationship that works best for them. They will give Tenleytown parents the resources they need to work as little or as much as they would like to. The idea for Two Birds first hatched when Kelsey Lents (Founder) was expecting her first son in 2017, and JP Coakley’s (Founder) daughter was just two weeks old, all whilst the friends were drenched in their respective academic schedules on the way to receiving MBA’s from Georgetown University. The schoolmates were eagerly in search of childcare that was in their Washington, D.C. neighborhood, yet also affordable. As their pursuit for a solution continued, Lents and Coakley soon found that if there were a childcare center that came up that did not have a waitlist, then the minimum age for enrollment of infants was 3 months old.
Stonewalled, they began to look for a community of parents that faced similar challenges. They soon discovered that the support groups that existed were either geared towards stay-at-home moms or parents that had maternity/paternity leave. Since Lents was self-employed and Coakley had no paternity leave, their conflicts contrasted from the majority. For example, Lents often had to schedule conference calls around breastfeeding her newborn, and at times even had to bring her son to client meetings just to make her schedule work.
Coakley & Williams Construction was awarded the interior buildout of the two-story 12,800 SF space in Washington, D.C. which features shared desks, dedicated desks, a conference room, private telephone rooms, kitchen area with coffee, a large open common area for hosting events, and a fully licensed childcare center on the first floor. It grants a 24-hour accessible private entrance to the coworking space, in case you don’t want a particular client to walk by a classroom of toddlers on the way to your business meeting.
A partial funding ($330,000) of the Two Birds project was provided by the $11 million Access to Quality Child Care Expansion Grant to support working families in the District. Construction began in Fall of 2018 and the final cost totaled at approximately $1.3 million. The architect on this project was Maginniss + del Ninno. An architect herself, Lents recalls the design process from her 10 years’ experience in design and construction versus being on the owner side this time around. “D.C. has major childcare restrictions,” says Lents. She and Coakley faced several hurdles along the way before officially opening in Spring of 2019. Project Manager at Coakley & Williams Construction, Christian Horn, says, “Obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy for this project was more involved than usual due to the childcare center portion. In addition to the high standard inspections already required in DC, we were also subject to the Daycare Licensing body and their own inspections. This challenged us to look at each and every component through the eyes of a child in order to make Two Birds completely safe to operate.” The first of its kind, the facility is located in Ward 3 and just steps away from the Tenleytown Metro Station. Not only does the coworking space offer licensed childcare with CPR trained teachers, they also extend a progressive Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum, a humanitarian education system that was first established in Italy in 1963 following World War II.
AN IMPORTANT MILESTONE FOR D.C.
On Friday, May 3, 2019, Mayor Bowser and her administration arrived at the Ribbon Cutting, a ceremonious event that marks the grand opening of the newly constructed space. The ceremony began at 11:00am on the bright Spring morning, and Co-Founder, Kelsey Lents, stepped to the podium and beamed as she announced, “We are the first and only company to provide fully licensed childcare integrated with coworking space in the United States.” The crowd roared in applause as Mayor Bowser proudly pounded her fist in high the air. Hanseul Kang, D.C. State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), also stepped to the podium to remind us that this commemoration signified the reaching of a halfway milestone for their partnership with Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in their efforts to meet the Mayor’s goal of creating 1,000 “high quality” childcare seats for infants and toddlers in all 8 wards in the District by September of 2020 to accommodate the somewhat “baby boom”. Two Birds will provide 72 of those seats (with an additional 42 seats for pre-K aged children), setting the current status at 558 new infant and toddler childcare seats in Washington.
Two Birds gave a huge thank you to the “team of people who have made it possible for us to take Two Birds from a concept with a big vision to an actual building and reality where we have families, children, parents, and teachers all under one roof.”