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Little Knights Learning Center opens its doors

August 22, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

After more than a year of careful planning and fundraising, the Little Knights Learning Center opened as a daycare provider for infants through grade school children this past week under the careful eye of Mackenzie Derby, the Director of the daycare.

"I've known that Dysart has needed this for awhile and am excited to be a part of it," Derby, a former Dysart resident said.

Several people interviewed for the position, with Derby selected for the position because of her experience as a interim director at her previous job. Derby also has knowledge of systems the daycare would use. Her daily responsiblities include paperwork associated with the daycare, correctly filing that paperwork, correspond with parents, work with the board that oversees the daycare and address daily needs like having to cook while they search for one.

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On a typical day, the daycare opens at 6 a.m. for all ages. For infants, the staff asks when they had their last bottle, what they need for food and not running on any set schedule. The older children have more structure to their time including breakfast, working on different subjects, outside time and a lot of free play.

"Playing is the most important thing for children because that's how they learn a lot of things," Derby said. "They'll do art projects, take naps, and continue to play."

52 kids from infant to 10 years old are currently enrolled at LKLC, with many being early grade school age. They can come before school to have breakfast and will be picked up after school to play or work on homework. The daycare must also comply with staff rules enforced by the Department of Health Services. In the infant room, there must be an adult for every four kids, one adult for every six toddlers, one adult for eight kids who are three years old, one adult for every 12 kids between ages four to five, and finally school ages require one adult for every 15 kids. Currently, the daycare has 10 employees, including full-time and part-time employees and two high school students who do before/after school.

"Everyone goes through the same training like first-aid, CPR to follow the standards for the state and DHS," Derby said. "Myself and our assistant director are full-time, then a lead teacher for the rooms, then employees learning how much they want to commit to."

Members of the staff must also ensure surfaces are cleaned, toys sanitized and check to make sure no latex is used in room where a child may be allergic to it. Food allergies are another item to be mindful of, but in the end the attention to detail is all worth it to Derby.

"I have a passion for working with kids and making sure they are growing, learning and have a safe place to do that," Derby said.

Little Knights Learning Center is funded by a fundraising committee, grants and donations from the community. The center is rented out of D-G Elementary with these funds.

"We received a lot of donations from people in the community, whether it was toys, blankets, items like that," Derby said. "We need those extra toys if things break and we're grateful for everything we've gotten. There aren't many options here and there was definitely a need for infant care. Our job is make sure these kids are being cared for and they are safe while their parents are at work."



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