It is now common for both parents in a family to work outside the home. With no parent home during the day requires that they find a good day care for their pre-school age children. The same is true of single parent families. Depending on the parents' work schedule and commute time, their school-age children may need a place to go before or after school. Finding a good, stable and nurturing day care for their children is one of the most important decisions parents can make. This task is now an easier one in Sebago with two family child care homes and a child care center to choose from.
Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes
There are two basic types of day care licensed by the State - Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes. Child care centers serve more then 3 children under the age of 13 and are not a place of residence. The average child care center in Maine cares for 35 children, and the number of children is dictated by the size of the facility and a provider/child ratio depending on age. Centers usually have a structured schedule and emphasize both academic and social learning skills. They group children according to age.
Family Child Care Homes can care for 8 to 12 children depending on the children's ages, and are located in the provider's home. The average family child care home in Maine cares for 11 children. They often have mixed age groups, and usually offer a learning environment for basic academic and social skills.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Care and Head Start listed only 37 certified Child Care Centers and 29 certified Family Child Care Homes in all of Cumberland County, as of January 23, 2006. Parents are fortunate that there are three certified child care providers in the little town of Sebago.
Rainbow Valley Kids Learning Center
"We have been certified since 1990 by the State of Maine as a family child care home for 12 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years," said Mary Harrington. She and her staff run Rainbow Valley Kids from her home on Convene Road in Sebago, and have transformed it into classrooms and play areas for the different children. They provide both care for infants and toddlers as well as a preschool learning program for the older children. There is an outdoor playground suitable for the different ages of the children, and they are served breakfast, lunch and two snacks daily family style.
Rainbow Valley Kids is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. to accommodate commuting parents, plus snow days and teacher workshops when public schools are closed. For more information or to schedule a visit, call Harrington at (207) 787-3140 or email her at email@example.com.
Curious George's Daycare
Nancy George started Curious George's Daycare on Hawkes Road in Sebago in August 2004. Her certified family child care home is authorized to take 10 children at any one time but she has an active group of 23 children from 2 to 13 years old enrolled. Most of her children are there for part of the day so all of the 23 are not there at the same time. Her biggest times are before and after school for the school-age children while their parents make the commute to work.
"There are only a few day cares in Sebago or in the surrounding communities for parents to leave their kids," said George. "We pride ourselves on the care and nurturing we provide our children. Our motto is 'call Nancy for peace of mind'." George can reached to provide more information about Curious George's Daycare at (207) 787-2806 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Birchwood Child Care Center
"I really like kids," Brigitte Osgood said, holding a contented toddler in her lap. "And I think that parents need a day care facility where they know their children will be safe and nurtured. That's what we provide here at the Birchwood Child Care Center."
With the sound of happy children at play in the background, Osgood told how she designed and built the Birchwood Child Care Center in North Sebago. The newly opened facility can accommodate up to 60 children from ages 6 weeks to 12 years and Osgood is the owner and program director for Birchwood, a state certified center.
Osgood has been in the day care business for five years, and started her 100-Acre Wood day care in her East Sebago home so that she could spend more time with her three children, then aged 9, 7 and 1. Osgood and her clients outgrew the 100-Acre Wood and the new Birchwood facility replaces the family child care home with a larger child care center that provides new services for Sebago and the surrounding the area.
"I built Birchwood on a two-acre lot that belonged to my grandmother, Roby Dyer. We have separate rooms for the nursery, for toddlers and pre-school, and for the older children. We also have a dining room where the kids have their home-cooked meals family style," she said. "I wanted Birchwood to be larger than a home, but still have a warm, homey atmosphere."
With her assistant director Sheila Parker and other staff, Osgood has designed a variety of programs aimed at each age group. Parents can drop their children off starting at 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and can pick them up again after work. There are pre-school and after-school programs for the older children, and the school bus stops right at the door to pick them up and deliver them from school every day. The center is also open on Saturdays from 7:00a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
The younger children spend the day at Birchwood. Toddlers from 6 weeks to 36 months are cared for in the nursery. There is a pre-school program for three- and four-year olds, as well as a program for children heading to Kindergarten next year. All of the Birchwood teachers are professionally trained and must complete a minimum of thirty hours of training each year in child development, health and child care operation. The lead teachers in the pre-school program also hold either a degree in Early Childhood Education or the equivalent.
Birchwood has a fenced-in playground as well as a small hill where kids can slide and play in the snow during the winter. There was a jumble of winter coats, snow suits and boots at the coat rack by the door, and from the tracks in the snow it was clear that the kids enjoyed all seasons in their playground.
"We plan so that the children to have a fun-filled time while they spend their days with us," said Parker. "Play time is mixed with learning, and we emphasize development of social skills, reading and math exercises. We even taught some of the children how to form the alphabet in American Sign Language!"
Frequent outings are planned with the kids. During the summer they go to the beach on Sebago Lake on Mondays, and on various field trips on Wednesdays. On holidays there are special events for parents and their children. For example, nearly 100 celebrated Halloween this fall at Birchwood.
"We also have community organizations use our facility," said Osgood. "The Brownies meet here every Tuesday afternoon after school."
At Birchwood the kids get to interact with other age groups. They are not left in their rooms all day, but share meal times family-style with all the other kids. "This helps their social skills," said Osgood. "They learn about sharing and interacting with one another. It is part of the home-like atmosphere that we try very hard to create here at Birchwood. The kids like it, and the parents appreciate it as well. They know that their children will have a fun-filled and safe time here." Osgood can be reached at (207) 787-2400 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Last updated August 20, 2006
Copyright © 2006, Allen Crabtree
Copyright © 2006, Allen Crabtree