Kim Cannon Interview:
This is file #57, cycle 2. Today’s date is June 28, 2017. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Kim Cannon about the Housatonic Day Care Center. But first we’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
JM:What is your birthdate?
KC:April 28, 1977
JM:Where were you born?
KC:Minot, North Dakota
JM:Your parents’ names?
KC:Randall and Shirley Cannon
JM:Do you have siblings?
KC:I do. I have a brother Glen Cannon and a sister Amanda Lidstone
JM:How did you come to the area?
KC:I came in 1989. My parents decided to move back after my dad retired from the military. He got a job with American Airlines.
JM:He worked out of New York City?
JM:What is the formal name of the organization?
KC:Housatonic Child Care Center Inc.
JM:How did you get involved?
KC:I got involved because of my niece started to attend. I had just moved back from Boston. I worked from home for a company and wanted to be involved in my community. I worked for a child care company doing finance for them. I felt like it was a good organization to which I could add some of my expertise. I also wanted to get involved with my community.
JM:What was the name of the Boston company?
KC:Bright Horizons-Family Solutions
JM:Did they develop a curriculum for early childhood?2.
KC:They do. They have an in-house curriculum called the World Curriculum. The Housatonic child Care Center uses a curriculum called Teaching Strategies-Gold which is a curriculum which multiple child care centers use.
JM:When did the Housatonic Child Care Center move from Wells Hill Road to Salmon Kill Road?
KC:They opened the new center in 1996.
JM:How many are on the Board of Directors?
KC:We have 7 board members; we have a bookkeeper and then the Executive Director, Tonya Roussis.
JM:What is your term of office?
KC:If you are an officer, it is a three year term. We do not put a limit on how long you can serve on the board. Janet Manko currently has been on the board for over the last thirty years on and off.
JM:What does the board actually do?
KC:The board supports the center and the director in terms of any human resources needs, policy, updating support, but our major function is fund raising. The center is a non-profit. Our goal is to keep family tuition as low as possible while still providing as high quality of care as we can. Because child care is such an expensive industry because of the wages we should be paying teachers in terms of the tuition that families want to pay, there is a gap which we need to pick up.
JM:How do you get your money?
KC:We fund raise by holding special events. Every year we do the ”Big Rig”; it is not a huge money maker but it is a great community friend maker because it is actually a fund raising event that children can attend. Most fund raising activities most children can’t attend or want to attend. We also do some “Paint and sip” fund raisers where we have Berkshire Paint come who has a woman who teaches you how to paint a picture which is coming up in July at the town Grove. She painted this beautiful picture of the Grove; she can teach someone like me who can’t draw a circle to paint this beautiful picture in a very easy way. There are a couple of glasses of wine while you are painting. We also have the little lottery where you buy a raffle ticket and your name gets picked. Then we have an appeal letter annually as well. We are always looking and trying out many different ideas. We also get funding from the town of Salisbury. That is a huge piece for us. The funding from Salisbury covers the cost of our electric, and water. What the parents for are the essential materials, teachers’ salaries. We are bridging the gap between them.
JM:What is your position presently?
KC:I am the treasurer of the board.
JM:You have expertise in that.3.
JM:How many years have you been on the board?
KC:I have been on the board for 7 years.
JM:How is the day care structured as far as children are concerned?
KC:We have three age groups: infant, toddler, and pre-school. Each age group is based on certain requirements bases on child to teacher ratio. 0 to 3 years old for every 4 children there has to be one teacher. Toddlers are ages 2-3. From age 3 and potty trained and up (which is considered pre-school), the ratio goes up to one teacher for every ten children. We have a head teacher in every age group. These teachers have to have education requirements, 12 early childhood education credits or an equivalent. I think it is 250 hours of care for experience. Each of those teachers has an assistant teacher working with them in the classroom.
JM:Do the assistance have to have training too?
KC:The assistants have to have certain training, CPR, medical administration, and there are some other specific requirements for training, but you do not have the same amount or specific child care training. That is on the job training as you are learning from your head teacher in the classroom.
JM:So no experience in child care is necessary as an aide.
KC:Correct. Legally we provide on the job training. Ideally when we are hiring, we are looking for folks who do have some.
JM:In numbers how many do you have on your staff?
KC:We have 9 teachers, and assistant director and a Director a total of 11. That is full time staff; we also have a couple of subs. There are three additional folks who will come in and help out when needed.
JM:With the lead teachers is this a formal teacher training program for them?
KC;Yes, they have to take classes at a higher educational facility that their classes are considered early childhood education. It could be child development, or early childhood specific courses.
JM:You said that the curriculum was called Teaching Strategies-Gold. Can you give an example of something within that curriculum?
KC:in the pre-school room they really focus on what we call case studies. For example recently the preschoolers were learning about books. They were encouraged to bring in their favorite book from home to share with their friends. They learned about the binding, the title page, all on the parts of the book. They talked about how books are used, where they are used, what different materials books can
be made out of. They made some books themselves. Then there was a center wide book fair. They bring in all the elements together. Then we can say, “Hey look at it. We can buy some books that we like.”
JM:How many clients do you have right now?
KC:We have35 families enrolled for the summer. We expect that number to go up into the mid -forties for the fall.
JM:What is your fee schedule?
KC:The fees are bases on the ratio in the classroom as well as the hours of care needed. With 0 to 3 including toddlers, you are paying a bit more because you have to have more staff and there are fewer children. We base it on hours of care as well as age of child. The other part of our cost is to provide financial aid for families who need it. We know it is an important service; if you can’t work because there is not child care it becomes a circular problem. Our hope is that we can provide the ease of mind that while you are working, your child is being taken care of.
JM:I have been in that situation when I was responsible for my father. It is difficult. Are you accredited?
KC:We are. We have NAEYC Accreditation: National Accreditation for the Education of Young Children.
JM:Does it have to be renewed?
KC:Yes it does. Every year you have to send in an annual report that talks about the curriculum that you are providing, the credentials of your teachers. You have to do a parent survey that talks about what the center is doing well, things that we can improve for the next year. Every 5 years there is a reaccreditation process so you have to go through the whole process again; it is a very onerous process.
JM:It sounds as if it would be.
KC:Yes but it really does hold you to a higher level of standards of education which you are providing, the facility that you are allowed to use, and the teaching staff that you have.
JM:What are your months and hours?
KC:We are open 12 months a year. We close for two weeks during the year; one between Christmas and New Year’s and for a week right before Region #1 opens usually the third week in August. Our hours are 7:00 am to 5:30 pm.
JM:Does everybody work from 7:30 to 5:30?
KC:No we have our lead teachers work until 4; we have our assistants are able to fill in or use the subs we have to work from 4 to 5:30, depending on what we need.
JM:How about security?5.
KC:We did a fund raiser for security campaign right after Sandy Hook. We were just looking for an intercom or a little trigger so we could lock the door all day long. The director could let people enter. We were asking for $1500 and we raised $11,000. We ended up getting a door-lock as well as an alarm system and some cameras. It has been really great. It gives the teachers, staff and parents an extra level of security and comfort. We are making sure that no strangers are coming through.
JM:That is important in this day and age definitely.
JM:What are the benefits of having you child at the Housatonic Child Care Center?
KC:The biggest piece is that you have a level of comfort that while you are working you can concentrate on what you are doing, not having to worry about how your child is being taken care of. Not only is your child being taken care of, but your child is learning things throughout the day. They are learning while they play. If they are not sitting down and learning their ABC’s, during play, they are learning. They are having fun doing it. They are making friends. They are learning how to be friends, how to treat each other. They get a lot of different experiences. We bring in some different activities. Recently they had a llama come in; they learned about different animals. They got to meet a llama. Women Support Services comes in and does some programs monthly talking about how to speak to your friends, ways to learn through puppet shows. We have Tom Hanford who comes in during the fall time every other week in the toddler and pre-school classrooms. He is called “Tom the Music Man”. He plays music with the kids. We have a group called “Born to Grove” who are drummers. They drum with the preschoolers for about a month. They get a lot of different activities and experiences that they would not normally get in a child-parent setting.
JM:Health policies? In school sometimes the parent would send the child in with a cough or temperature? What are your standards for that?
KC:We have a sick policy that every parent gets when they enroll that they have to sign. It talks a lot about this is the temperature at which we will send the child home, but there are also other things. If your child can not participate because he is tired, or not acting like themselves, we shall be concerned and give you a call. You can come and check out your child. We talk through the different things, but these folks are with your child 8 hours a day so they know your child pretty well. They know when there is something wrong. If you are the primary caregiver when they are sick, you have to leave work; the child can’t come back for 24 hours because they have had a fever. That is hard on you as well as the child.
JM:Is there anything that I have not covered that I should have?
KC:I don’t think so. It is one of those services in the community that is so important because it helps parents be able to go to work when they need to. It is your lawnmower guy, your teacher, your electrician; it helps everybody including you who is using the service. I would hope that many folks
don’t think of it as day care or babysitting. It is more of an education for their child. They get to see all of these great things to do.
JM:What a wonderful way to end this interview. Thank you.
KC:Thank you so much.