Two new child care providers open their doors in Perham

Married couple Sharon and Mark Kalina retired from child care this past August, after 30 years. As of this month, both Paige Faber and Jody Wurst are working out of the couple's former duplex child care facility, located at 773 and 777 Fifth Street N.E. in Perham.

Paige Faber is one of the newest childcare providers in the Perham area, looking after children at Paige's Place. (Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus)

Two new child care providers are now operating in Perham, helping to fill the big shoes left empty with the recent retirement of the Kalinas, and helping to keep the local gap in available child care from growing any wider.

Married couple Sharon and Mark Kalina retired from child care this past August, after 30 years . As of this month, both Paige Faber and Jody Wurst are working out of the couple's former duplex child care facility, located at 773 and 777 Fifth Street N.E.

"It's b een very exciting," said Faber, who's the provider at Paige's Place. "We've had lots of support throughout the community so far — lots of great people and other childcare providers. And the city has been really wonderful."

"The support has been phenomenal," agreed Wurst, who's the provider at Jody's Busy Bees Daycare.

Jody's Busy Bees opened Jan. 3; Paige's Place opened Jan. 10.


Wurst and Faber are both providers through the Head Start program operated by MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership , which provides a variety of services for low-income people throughout Mahnomen, Hubbard, Becker, Otter Tail and Wadena counties.

While MAHUBE-OTWA has several different program branches, Head Start focuses specifically on child care, providing free, federally-funded care for children from families with lower incomes, ages birth to 5 years.

"The K alinas were retiring and wanted to see this facility stay child care, because they know how important child care is to the community," said Head Start Director Michelle Wilkowski. "They were really hoping to find a way for providers to be in here."

Following the Kalinas' wishes, the city of Perham purchased the building and reached out to Wilkowski. Perham now leases the building to MAHUBE-OTWA, which hired both Faber and Wurst for their services.

"Perham is just a growing community," Wilkowski said. "It's bringing in a lot of industry. The school has been expanding. They provide a lot of services. Perham really has everything going for it."

Jody Wurst smiles in her childcare facility, Jody's Busy Bees Daycare. (Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus)

Wilkowski, Faber and Wurst are all excited for Head Start's arrival in the Perham community, and the support from the area is just icing on the cake.


" I just want (my daycare) to be the most nurturing, positive and creative environment it can be," Faber said. "I just want every family to be comfortable, like they’re at home… I just want those families to know that I’ll put in that same love and dedication into theirs that I do with my own."

Faber has a 1-year-old son that she takes care of alongside the rest of the kids in her facility. She's been living in the Staples area for about five years, and — in addition to her passion for childcare — loves spending time outdoors.

"I want to have an open-door policy," Wurst said. "I want parents to feel comfortable coming and know that their children are loved and well-taken care of; and they can just go to work and do their job and not worry about what's going on at daycare and know we’re having as much fun as we can have — growing and developing and enjoying life."

Wurst, much like Faber, loves the outdoors. She spends her free time crafting and gardening. She spent five years providing daycare, and 11 years in nursing, before joining Head Start. Weather permitting, both Wurst and Faber plan to spend as much time with the kids as possible outside.

Each day in their facilities, which can each have six kids ages 5 and under and four school-age kids, there will be a consistent schedule, including naps, story times, meals and more. Though they'll still have their surprise days with the kids, they know how important routines are for children.

"Thank you for supporting us," Wurst said to the Perham-area community. "We’re looking forward to being able to look after your children."


Faber continued, "I'm just so grateful to be here, and I'm so grateful these wonderful families trust us with those sweet babies."

Jody's Busy Bees Daycare can be reached at 218-849-5958, and Paige's Place can be reached at 218-839-9697. To apply for Head Start child care, go to and click on the Head Start page, where applications are located.

While the spots in Perham are almost filled, Wilkowski said things change and spots may always open up depending on circumstances. There are also locations in nearby areas, such as Frazee, that can be considered. Head Start takes applications year-round.

"I t does take a community to raise a child," Wurst said. "It takes everyone’s hard work."

Elizabeth (she/her), 24, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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