Veteran day care provider to reopen
After a two-year hiatus, Marion child care provider Tracey Long is reopening her day care business at 319 Locust St.
The decision came when Long became a grandmother.
“My daughter, Chelsi, and her husband had a baby and recently moved back to Marion,” Long said. “Together we decided it would be best for me to open up a day care again and look after baby Dawson along with the other children.”
Long is a veteran of child care.
“I’ve been doing this for so long that some of the kids I used to watch are recommending me to their friends who just had children,” Long said.
To become a licensed child care provider is a lot more work than it was when Long started 23 years ago.
“There are new regulations, and a larger amount of documented training hours are required,” Long said. “You used to only need pediatric CPR and first aid training, but now you also need to have training in child psychology and child development.”
To open, Long estimates she spent $180 on state and county licensure and another $3,000 on new toys.
Child care providers need to log 15 hours of class a year to keep their licenses, she said.
Housing and fire inspections are part of annual requirements.
A KBI background check and mental and physical health screenings also are conducted by the state.
“It’s a weeding-out process,” Long said. “A lot of people quit along the way. But it helps ensure that parents will find a child care provider who will really take care of their children.”
She recently painted interior walls and added new carpet. There is an indoor playroom and a learning room.
“We call it the ‘brainiac room,’” Long said. “I follow a curriculum that is geared toward school readiness.”
Long also added a playhouse in her backyard.
“Now you can’t have grass or rocks underneath outdoor play areas,” she said. “You have to use mulch, pea gravel or ground-up rubber.”
Mutual respect also is key. Long looks for clients who trust her experience and knowledge.
“I care for other people’s children like they were my own,” Long said. “But I have rules I set, and there is no special treatment.”
Though she has clients on her waiting list, no contracts have been signed, and there still are openings.
She has to follow rules about the number of children she can care for in the size of dwelling she has. Currently she has space for a total of 10.
“I already have one infant,” she said. “An infant counts for 1½. That means I can have five preschool age and four school-age children.”
Long will have an open house at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Loving Hands Childcare will open for business August 8.
Long got the idea for the name by the way hands make a heart when held together.