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