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Merritt Island KinderCare

Debbie Darst, Center Director

55 Catalina Isle Dr. Merritt Island FL 32953
(321) 453-3473 Contact this center

Ages: 6 Weeks to 12 Year-Olds

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Elementary Schools Bussed To:
Mila, Audubon, Stevenson, Tropical Trail and Lewis Carroll


Welcome to Merritt Island KinderCare where everything is designed for learning! We are proud to say that our center has received the National Association of Child Care Accreditation. Here at the Merritt Island KinderCare we strive to be the leader in early Childhood Education. Call to schedule a tour or just stop by! Come experience our school, meet our wonderful teachers and experience all we have to offer. We look forward to having you join our KinderCare Family.

Debbie Darst, Center Director

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  • Accreditation Seal Every Day · Every Child · Excellence · Accreditated · Knowledge Universe
  • NAC Accreditation NAC

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children with teacher


We’re so proud!

Nationally only 10% of daycares are accredited–nearly 100% of our learning centers are. That’s a big difference, and that means KinderCare kids are getting the very best. Here’s why.

illustrated bear in rocketship


Our kids are taking off!

By kindergarten, our kids are testing ahead of their peers. Read all about it.


Many of our child care centers are accredited by national organizations that require us to meet rigorous early childhood education standards and guidelines for high-quality care and education. Programs that are accredited have demonstrated their commitment to go beyond the state’s minimum licensing requirements to meet and maintain these high standards of quality.

Our Programs

Infant Programs (6 weeks - 1 year)

Babies grow and learn every day. Our goal is to provide a safe and nurturing "home away from home" where babies can explore and make new discoveries. We know that learning through play is extremely valuable at this age and our Early Foundations® Infant program is designed to give babies the skills that will serve as the building blocks for a lifetime of learning.

Toddler Programs (1 – 2 Years)

As toddlers develop friendships, self-esteem, and curiosity, our Early Foundations® Toddler program will help them explore their world in a safe and nurturing environment. Our unique curriculum is based on the philosophy that children learn best through experiences. So each day is filled with fun activities that excite and develop toddlers, giving them the comfort and confidence to speak those first few important words, as well as make their first friends.

Discovery Preschool Programs (2 – 3 Years)

At this age, children are making new discoveries daily. And as two-year olds begin to exert their independence, our Early Foundations® Discovery Preschool program is prepared to open their eyes to a world of learning, sharing, and exploring. Our holistic approach in the classroom engages young minds with a blend of music, art, and movement, as well as the early education fundamentals they'll need as they continue on to preschool.

Preschool Programs (3 – 4 Years)

As preschoolers gain more self-esteem, they may feel ready to take on the world. Our Early Foundations® Preschool program enhances that confidence by providing activities to help children become problem solvers and lifelong learners. Through independent exploration, structured activities, and hands-on learning, children will work on early literacy, math, science, and social studies concepts. A healthy dose of running, jumping, and dancing keeps them active too.

Prekindergarten Programs (4 – 5 Years)

Prekindergartners are preparing for the adventure of a lifetime – school. And our Early Foundations Prekindergarten® program is designed to get them ready by teaching letters and words, math concepts, and valuable social skills. With small group instruction, independent play in an organized atmosphere, and whole-group activities, children will have all the right skills to hop, skip, and jump right into kindergarten.

Before- & After-School Programs (5 – 12 Years)

Even after school's out for the day, children need to be engaged in a comfortable, yet stimulating environment. That's where our Catch the Wave® program comes in. This innovative before – and after-school program allows school-age children to balance learning and fun through a variety of experiences. From homework help to fun physical activities, our program is designed so that everyone goes home happy.

Summer Programs (preschool, prekindergarten, and school-age)

Don’t miss out on KinderCare’s Summer of Wonder: Six themed programs that will make summer exciting, educational and tons of fun. Whether your child is in our preschool, Pre-K or school-age programs, all of it is designed to help children learn while soaking up the fun. We offer flexible scheduling options to meet the needs of busy families like yours so we hope to see you there.

Participating Child Care Aware Center

KinderCare has partnered with Child Care Aware® of America in an effort to offer fee assistance for Active Duty military families and solutions to their child care needs when care at a Child Development Center on the installation is not available.

Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten Programs

Learning Adventures - Enrichment Program


The Cooking Adventures program gives children opportunities to participate in fun, developmentally appropriate cooking experiences. They will learn about recipes, ingredients, cooking vocabulary, and the importance of a healthy diet. The curriculum includes lessons on picnics, pizza, and heart-healthy meals.


The Math Adventures enrichment program is designed to teach important mathematics concepts such as geometry, numbers, measurement, and probability. Your child will learn about length, height, and weight. He will learn about shapes and solids. He will learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and count money. Math is everywhere and giving your child every advantage now will add up to success later in life.


Ongoing research proves that early exposure to music helps children think, reason, create, and express themselves. Children will laugh and learn about rhythm, vocal melodies, and a variety of musical genres and instruments, which can lower stress and advance memory. Learning never sounded so good.

Phonics & Reading Adventures

Set your child up for advanced success with literacy through phonics, the study of letters and sounds. Reader books, games, and activity cards help your child understand the basics of vowels and blending syllables, giving him confidence and command of language.

Teachers & Staff

Introducing our incredible KinderCare staff! The children benefit each day from our friendly and engaging staff. Our teachers are passionate about educating and caring for children. This team is truly dedicated to building a positive educational environment for children.

  • Debbie Darst

    Debbie Darst, Center Director

    I love walking through a classroom and having the children excited to show me what they are doing; cook me something to eat in the dramatic play area; tell me about the story that was just read or the artwork they created. Just knowing that we spark their imagination and love of learning every day is so rewarding.

    Debbie was born in the Melbourne Hospital in Florida. She worked as a business professional for a couple different companies in the Seattle, Washington area. However, when she moved back to Florida in 1992, she decided to change fields to work with children. Her first job within the childcare field was an Assistant Director for a private childcare center. She quickly moved up once she joined KinderCare in 1994. Debbie was initially hired as the Prekindergarten teacher at the Indian Harbor Beach center. Then, just after nine months, she was promoted to be their Assistant Director. In 2000, she accepted her first Director position. In her personal time, Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and grandchildren. She has been married for 30 years. Her daughter has two grandsons with whom she enjoys spending time.

    Previous Experience:
    Prior to joining KinderCare Debbie worked for a private childcare center as their Assistant Director for two years.
    Year Started:
    23 Years
    Years in ECE industry:
    22 Years
    Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education, Staff Credential, Director's Credential
  • Marvetta Pratt

    Marvetta Pratt, Assistant Director

    The overwhelming joy of working with children is being able to see them learn, grow and change everyday.

    Marvetta started her career in Early Childhood Education as a teacher. She has taught every age group in her experience in the classroom, from Infants to School Age children. She enjoys getting on a child's level and talking to the children, especially asking questions to really see how they think about and see the world. Marvetta has been in the management aspect of this field since 2015 and finds great passion in the ability to put her experience and skill into helping children grow and develop to their fullest potential.

    Previous Experience:
    Marvetta came to KinderCare from another preschool program. where she worked in the Toddlers class as the lead teacher, She also has a wealth of experience teaching children of all ages over the years of her career.
    Favorite Children's Book:
    The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle's
    Year Started:
    3 Years
    Years in ECE industry:
    25 years
    Early Childhood Education Certification
  • Ms. Bri Taylor

    Ms. Bri Taylor, Discovery Preschool Classroom

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Bri Taylor has worked in Babysitting (9yrs)
    Favorite Children's Book:
    And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry St. by Dr. Seuss.
    Year Started:
    1 Year
    Currently in the CDA Progam.
  • Ms. Lauren

    Ms. Lauren, Preschool Classroom

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Lauren has 120 hours in Special Education, Elementary Education, and Behavior for children from birth to 8th grade. Experience with Brevard Schools in remedial education for K to 6th grade in reading and math skills. Love to Teach...
    Favorite Children's Book:
    Dr. Seuss Mulberry Street and Oh the Places We Will Go. Also Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom,123 and ABC.
    Year Started:
    1 Year
    Years in ECE industry:
    39 Years
    2 AA'S
  • Ms. Yazmin

    Ms. Yazmin, Preschool Classroom

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Yazmin is a lovely mother of 4 children ranging from the age of 18 years old to 11 years old. she have lots of nieces and nephews that she has watched and cared for in the past and present.
    Favorite Children's Book:
    Dr. Seuss Books
    Year Started:
    1 Year
  • Ms. Kelly

    Ms. Kelly, Toddler Classroom

    Previous Experience:
    Mrs. Kelly previously worked at KinderCare in Melbourne. she started as the VPK assistant and School-age, and also worked in Preschool.
    Favorite Children's Book:
    It Looks Like Spilled Milk! By Charles Shaw
    Year Started:
    1 Year
    Years in ECE industry:
    14 years
    In process of getting my CDA
  • Ms. Mary

    Ms. Mary, Toddler Classroom

    Previous Experience:
    Mrs. Mary has worked many different positions in the childcare career field, she has worked as a Aid, Assistant Teacher, lead teacher, a director in a child care center, and now presently she is the lead teacher in our toddler class.
    Favorite Children's Book:
    Oh The Places you'll go By Dr. Seuss
    Year Started:
    1 Year
    Years in ECE industry:
    35 years
    Bachlor Science and other early childhood certifications
  • Ms. Kat

    Ms. Kat, Toddlers Classroom/Learning Adventures

    Like Wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people never thought you would." - E.V.

    Previous Experience:
    Camp counselor for both 4-H and Camp Yellowstone in Montana. Assistant for Growing Sprouts daycare. Photography teacher for Great Falls High School yearbook class.
    Favorite Children's Book:
    Papa, please get the moon for me. Book by Eric Carle
    Year Started:
    1 Year
    Years in ECE industry:
    10 years
    Currently working on CDA
  • Ms. Katie

    Ms. Katie, Kitchen Staff

    Ms. Kate enjoys working with children. She sees herself as a magnet because when she goes into a classroom because they all come running! Especially the toddlers! She also loves to watch them grow and move from class to class when they are ready.

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Katie has previously been a full time nanny. She once worked in a Montessori school, but says it all began with babysitting.
    Year Started:
    12 Years
    Years in ECE industry:
    20 years
  • Ms. Cathy

    Ms. Cathy, Infants

    Ms. Cathy works with children because of the pleasure she receives from watching them develop and grow and knowing she had a small part in that process.

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Cathy ran a home daycare for 5 years back in Connecticut.
    Year Started:
    3 Years
  • Ms. Elizabeth

    Ms. Elizabeth, Discovery Preschool Classroom

    Since Ms. Elizabeth was a teenager she knew she wanted to have a career in Early Childhood. She loves knowing that she can help each child grow and learn everyday.

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Elizabeth was a nanny for the past years to an amazing little girl. She cared for this child from 2 months to four years old.
    Year Started:
    2 Years
  • Ms. Leah

    Ms. Leah, Discovery Preschool

    Ms. Leah works with children because she loves children. It brings a smile to her face to see them learn new things everyday.

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Leah is going to college for Early Childhood Education. She has previously been a babysitter, worked at a church nursery, and has volunteered at Demps.
    Year Started:
    3 Years
  • Ms. Jamie

    Ms. Jamie, PreKindergarten/ Health and Safety

    Ms. Jamie works with children because she loves knowing she can influence a child in a positive way. She also loves seeing their excitement when they learn something new.

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Jamie has worked in child care for 7 years. She started as a substitute and worked her way up.
    Year Started:
    2 Years
  • Ms. Jackie

    Ms. Jackie, PreKindergarten

    Ms. Jackie loves working with children because she gets to see the progress the children make in their learning. She is inspired to come to work everyday because of the children and her coworkers.

    Year Started:
    2 Years
  • Ms. Bri

    Ms. Bri, School Age Classroom

    Ms. Bri says she enjoys working with children in the hope that she can, in anyway possible, positively impact their lives.

    Previous Experience:
    Ms. Bri has been babysitting all her life and has taken care of younger siblings.
    Year Started:
    2 Years

Upcoming Center Activities

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September's Learning Focus

Children 6 weeks to 3 years old: Spaces and Places and All About Me
As infants and toddlers explore the spaces and places around them, children in Discovery Preschool will learn all about what makes people the same as well as what makes them different. Infants will experiment with moving toy cars around, build block towers and then knock them down, and even take a tour of the center to see what things are like outside of their classroom! Toddlers will get all revved up as they take a closer look at different vehicles and learn more about neighborhoods, communities, and the jobs that grownups have. In Discovery Preschool, children will be learning about themselves as they play games that strengthen their five senses, discuss feelings and emotions, practice self-help skills, and work on learning the names of body parts.

Children 4 to 5 years old: All About Me and My Home and Family
It’s the beginning of the school year—the perfect time to get to know each other better! Older children will be spending time sharing about themselves, their homes, and their families as they learn what makes people the same and what makes them different. Children will bring their own experiences to the drawing board as they create group stories and 3-D collages about families and homes, pantomime different home- and family-related activities, and draw self-portraits. With our curriculum’s project-related learning component, children in Transitional Kindergarten work together to decide on an individual or whole-group project related to the theme. Past projects have included creating a class book about emotions or working together to build a small-scale home, but who knows—the children may come up with a unique idea that’s entirely their own!

Monday September 04, 2017
Center Closed for Labor Day

About Our Center

Merritt Island KinderCare has made a stride in educational excellence in this community since the 1970's. We have seven individual "closed concept" classrooms that cater to the individual educational needs of the children and their families. Each classroom has a tailored curriculum to meet the developmental domains of Social and Emotional, Cognitive, Physical, and Language development in every aspect of child growth and development. We have a friendly staff that is willing to go above and beyond for your family and do whatever you need to feel comfortable leaving your precious ones in our care.

Languages Spoken at Our Center

  • American Sign Language
  • Spanish

Meals & Menus

Meals Served

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • PM Snack

Additional Menu Options

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Special diets

Center Menu

Holidays Observed

We are closed to observe the following Holidays:

New Year's Day
President's Day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after
Christmas Day
Christmas Eve we close at 3:00 pm


Health and Safety

Merritt Island KinderCare believes that safety comes first. We have a coded entry system on our front door. Only enrolled families and teachers know the entry code. All of our perimeter doors and fenced playgrounds are locked to ensure that no unauthorized entry. We conduct regular fire and safety drills. All of our team members also have their CPR and First Aid Certifications, which are renewed regularly.

At KinderCare, what families say about us means a lot. Read below some of the great experiences our families have had with us.

Share Your Story
If you have a story about your experience at KinderCare, please share your story with us.

I am a mother of three boys ages are nine, eight and three. I was a stay at home mom for eight years. When the time came to send my youngest to school it was not an easy decision for me, but I new it would be good for him. I researched KinderCare and really liked their programs. I went to the Merritt Island location and did a walk through. The place seemed nice, but when I met the teacher and how she interacted with my son, I knew this was the place I wanted him to go. Now all my children go there and love it. Everyone is so kind and friendly. My youngest son is involved in some of the extra education programs they offer. My older two do the after care and went to the summer camp. I am very happy with making the decision in choosing KinderCare.

- Mother

See what’s happening on the blog

Our staff would like to welcome you to visit our center. The staff takes pride in keeping up to date with the latest trends in Early Childhood Education. Ongoing training is offered to the staff during the year at the center and though the various training opportunities in the community.

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Resources for Parents

Download helpful guides and other resources to make your child care decisions easy.

Local Resources

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