Ms. Estella Pegues

A Provider You Should Know by Kim Klimek, Compliance Supervisor

Ms. PeguesFor the past 17 years, Mrs. Estella Pegues has owned and operated Home Sweet Home Child Care Services located on the Southeast Side of Chicago.   Prior to opening her home day care, Mrs. Pegues was a secretary for 20 years. Mrs. Pegues and her husband Johnie raised six sons. Mrs. Pegues discovered she enjoyed the frequent visits of their son’s friends and that their friends enjoyed being in her home, so she decided to dedicate her home and career to caring for children. Shortly after opening the day care, Johnie quit his job and Estella and Johnie have been a day care home team ever since.

Home Sweet Home Child Care Services typically cares for children from newborn until 12 years old. The Pegues’ offer a fun and safe environment for the children to learn and explore. Mrs. Pegues opened Home Sweet Home Child Care Services with four children in her care. The day care home has grown into a group day care home caring for up to 16 children. The children’s parents feel that Mrs. Pegues has made a very positive impact on their children’s lives. Estella and Johnie utilize parents to market their day care home to future clients and utilize existing clients as references. Mrs. Pegues publishes a parent newsletter to keep the parents informed about program activities. We know that a happy client demonstrates good customer service. It is not unusual for Estella’s former day care children to return to visit Home Sweet Home Child Care Services. A former client and recent high school graduate returned for a visit with Mrs. Pegues. The graduate started in Mrs. Pegues’ care at the age of 2 years.

Mr. and Mrs. Pegues own a Chicago 2-flat which was converted into a day care home. They added a stairwell in order to dedicate the entire building to day care. The Pegues’ teach the children science, math, computer, writing, movement, and music. In addition, the Pegues offer manipulative areas for preschoolers and are designed to teach small motor development and control. A manipulative area may include learning how to buckle, how to snap, or how to tie your shoe. The areas are designed to be at the child’s height and are also labeled. The Pegues adapted Baby Can Read© into their curriculum as well. The children have “rug time” each morning and afternoon. During rug time, Mrs. Pegues reads the children a book which is followed by a book discussion. The day care home has its own library which is available to the children at all times of care. The children are reading and writing before they start kindergarten.

Screen time/TV time is offered on a limited basis. Home Sweet Home Child Care Services provides age-appropriate toys and educational materials which are labeled for specific ages. There is a large, padded, outdoor playground area with sand and water activities. In addition, each year the children plant and water a vegetable garden in the back yard.

Mrs. Pegues plans menus 5 weeks at a time. She talks with the children and her family to incorporate menu items everyone can enjoy. Her family eats the same menu as the day care children because Mrs. Pegues would not serve the day care children any food items she would not serve her own family. Mrs. Pegues serves family-style for lunch and dinner. The children help set the table before each meal. All of the meals are cooked on the premises. The menu consists of fish, chicken and turkey. They do not serve pork or red meat. The vegetables mostly come from their vegetable garden. The children love Mrs. Pegues’ Bite-size Lemon Pepper Chicken recipe. It is a quick, simple recipe that replaces the typical chicken nugget. Simply cut up skinless chicken breast into bite size pieces, season with lemon pepper and sauté in olive oil. Serve over brown rice and green beans. They are healthier, better tasting, and more nutritious than store bought chicken nuggets!

The most rewarding part of Mrs. Pegues career is “seeing the smiles on the faces of happy children”. The most challenging for her is dealing with difficult behaviors such as hitting, biting and spitting. Mrs. Pegues stated “As a care giver, I am responsible for making each child feel loved and accepted. Good teacher-child relationships build character and personality which, over time, may change a negative behavior into a positive behavior”.

According to the parents/guardians of children in her care, Home Sweet Home Child Care Services is a top-rated day care. The day care offers a well-planned, creative curriculum that Mrs. Pegues posts for the parents/guardians to read. She believes offering the structure of the same daily routine enables the children to easily transition from one activity to another, making each child feel in control.

Mrs. Pegues has CDA accreditation, an associate’s degree in early childhood education, and has completed coursework to achieve the Illinois Quality Counts Quality Rating System.   In order to remain current, Mrs. Pegues networks with other providers, attends continuing education classes, and reads the Illinois Child Care Bureau quarterly newsletters.   In addition, Mrs. Pegues mentors new day care home providers to learn best practices and develop business connections/relationships.

Mrs. Pegues maintains her food program responsibilities by using Daily Meal Worksheet so that she can enter the data into Minute Menu™ when she has time. She staples together the month’s Daily Meal Worksheets ensuring she has the proper documentation for home visits. Mrs. Pegues thoroughly enjoys providing care for children and would definitely choose this career again.

Ms. Darcy Dussault

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For 15 years, Ms. Darcy Dussault has owned and operated Hearts At Home Day Care, located in Antioch. As a young woman Darcy, a Fond du Lac, Wisconsin native, worked as assistant service manager for Piggly Wiggly. After the birth of her third child, Ms. Dussault decided to stay at home to care for her own children. The decision was based on the fact that she had very little time with her family while working outside the home and because she found very few options for day care in her community. Darcy decided to get her license and open a day care home to provide quality day care to children in the Antioch area.
Ms. Dussault cares for children 6 weeks to 12 years old using a structured schedule which helps the children develop responsibility, self-esteem and self-confidence.   She believes that by providing the children with a good foundation of learning, listening and becoming self-reliant, they will succeed in all that they do.  Darcy uses flash cards to stimulate the infant so that once they become toddlers the child will already know the sounds of each letter of the alphabet.  She also uses Leap Frog® to aid in her teaching.

A typical day at Darcy’s begins with floor time.  Floor time is designed to teach letters, numbers, and sight reading – learning to recognize words by pictures or by listening to another person read.  By the time the child is 4-5 years old, they are reading on their own.  The children are currently learning to recognize and use prepositions.  During floor time they also have sing-a-longs and use percussion instruments as well as play dress up.  This teaches the children how to button, zipper and tie shoes. They go to the library once a week to pick out their reading materials.  She is very proud that the children always receive compliments on their “quiet voices” and how well they behave.  When the weather is nice, they love to go to the park to run and play.  Ms. Dussault also stresses the importance of physical activity.

Organization is the key to keeping up with her food program responsibilities.  As required by CACFP, Darcy records menus and attendance daily and uses Minute Menu Systems ™, an on-line system enabling providers to maintain business records as well as submit their claim to ICCB each month with the click of a button.

Darcy involves the children in the meal preparation by choosing a ‘leader’ for the day who makes the choice for the group between two meal plans.  The leader for the day is also allowed to use a special, red plate for the day.  When introducing new food to the children, they are not always excited.  She uses creative techniques such as cutting the food into shapes to encourage the children to try new foods.

When asked what was most rewarding about her career, Darcy replied, “Seeing the growth of the children. They are my extended family.”  She sees the younger children mirror the older children and believes child care is a team effort.  She feels that everyone involved with the child participates in the learning process.  She speaks with each parent daily and keeps them involved.  Darcy stated she would choose her career as a day care home professional again and again because she is so proud of the children.

Ms. Dussault’s role model was her mother, Dorothy Klumpyan, who recently passed away in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  Although she was the mother of 8 children, Mrs. Klumpyan still found time to volunteer countless hours in the Fond du Lac community.  Darcy tries to live by her mother’s philosophy which was, “When you can make a difference in people’s lives around you, especially young people, you are a “gift” and that gift has an awful lot of ribbons flowing out in our community.”

by Kim Klimek, Assistant Director of Provider Services