The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Blaine County Beacon: Keeping Up with a Child's Curious Nature

 

July 24, 2019

The Hudon family takes a break from their busy work schedules to capture a family photograph: Tylor holding BrookLynn, Kayla, owner and operator of Little Raskels Daycare, and Kyle. .

Kayla (Williams) Hudon didn't always know she would be in the child care business, but she knew she was interested in business. In fact, she dreamed of opening a fitness center/health club in Harlem. After she graduated from Chinook High School in 2006, she attended what was then Fort Belknap College, earning an Associate of Science Degree in Business Entrepreneurship in 2010. During that same year, she married Tylor Hudon on August 14.

Intending to put her recently earned degree to work, Hudon initially found employment in Home Health Care. However, she struggled to find reliable and quality child care for her son Kyle, who was born in 2009. So, in April 2012, realizing she had more of a passion for children than for the elderly, she opened Little Raskels, a daycare facility in downtown Harlem on Main Street, next door to the old flower shop. Three years later, the couple's daughter BrookLynn was born.

Hudon soon began taking early childhood education courses online with Dawson Community College. She also pursued preschool coursework offered through the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC).

Eventually, when the building that housed her daycare sold because it was in need of considerable maintenance, Hudon moved her business to her home. "I knew I wanted this to be a business, not just a babysitting service," Hudon said. To ensure she was moving in that direction, Hudon attended Tom Copeland seminars and read several of his books. Copeland, who has been conducting training workshops and webinars for family child care providers, trainers, and tax preparers since 1982, is considered one of the nation's leading experts on the business of family child care. His ideas have inspired Hudon.

As her mission with Little Raskels Daycare, Hudon intends to deliver safe, reliable childcare in a clean and child-friendly atmosphere. At Little Raskels, which is both a wheelchair accessible and non-smoking facility, she provides toilet training, offers field trips, outdoor activities and play equipment, and uses a structured curriculum. The only time the television is turned on is when weather is so inclement that the little ones are unable to get outdoors and explore.

Little Raskels is licensed by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services - Child Care Licensing Program and has a MtCCA; Level 2 License. "I am also part of the STARS to Quality Program with the State of Montana. When I was evaluated this past go-around, I missed Star Three by two tenths of a point!" Hudon exclaimed.

The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and early childhood professionals. The program's mission is to support high quality early care and education programs for child care and education so that programs and practitioners can make continuous improvement in creating healthy, safe, and enriching environments and can assist families in making informed decisions where child care is concerned.

As part of this program, Hudon has access to state funding every quarter. In order to qualify for those funds, she is expected to submit a budget and a rationale for any quality improvements, and the Program will help her fund those improvements. The Program has assisted her in purchasing blocks and art supplies, for example. "These funds come with requirements attached, however," Hudon explained. "I have to conduct assessments and collect data so that the State can verify that the improvements are producing results."

Hudon's biggest reward has been seeing growth in the children in her care. "Many of the children that come to Little Raskels are tribally funded, some are high needs and require additional attention, others are either in the foster care system or being raised by grandparents, so it is critical that I not only provide a daily routine with structure and predictability but that the children receive stable care."

Because some of the children are not accustomed to outside play, Hudon incorporates that into every day. She even allows the children to help feed the family ducks, goat, and chickens. "Children need to develop a sense of responsibility and to know that they are valued and needed. Chores give them those essentials, developing self-efficacy and self-esteem. The children especially enjoy feeding, watering, and caring for the chickens or gathering eggs," she said.

Although Hudon has been in business for seven years, her greatest challenge continues to be retaining staff and care givers. "People don't really understand what child care involves and how demanding it can be. Some of my employees think this is a sit-down job that will allow them to be on their phones either texting or surfing the internet, and I tell them I don't want to see their phones during the work day," she reported.

"I am required to have one full-time employee after enrollment of a sixth child," Hudon stated. "I currently have a roster of twelve full-time children, and during the school year, I can serve sixteen, with four of those being after school. So, I'm full, but I have a waiting list that people can get on if they're interested," she added.

Hudon spends countless hours maintaining a structured environment and designing curriculum to ensure that she is providing quality child care and developmentally appropriate experiences that foster children's engagement. However, what surprised her most about the business is the self-employment side of taxes and the challenges of bookkeeping. She said her mom, Tami Williams, who is currently the Blaine County Clerk and Recorder, helps her itemize receipts and keep her records current. "I was surprised how much paperwork there is," Hudon said.

To further assist her with the paper work, Hudon utilizes ProCare software. "I use ProCare software, not only on the employee side for clocking in and clocking out, but also with the parents, who can check in and check out. That software saves a ton of time," she said. With ProCare, Hudon can store child and family records, track attendance, automate billing, manage employee data and information, and calculate payroll.

When asked in what direction she hopes to take the business, Hudon replied, "After our house in town sells, I plan to purchase

See Page A2: Little Raskels Daycare

my grandmother's place and open a center-based childcare facility across from the old Hart of the West clothing store on Highway 2. I want to develop play centers and design a creative curriculum much like what is used in Head Start. Eventually, I hope to work into a preschool readiness program," she said.

Research suggests that play is not a luxury; it affects children's motivation and enables children to formulate ideas and then to test them, to problem solve. Research further reveals that play is more valuable when children plan, define, shape, and carry out their own play activities. Early childhood caregivers facilitate this process by structuring and arranging a play corner with possible activities and then providing adequate time for spontaneous, self-directed play. A theme gives structure to children's learning and invites their extended engagement with a topic. Creative planning allows for integration of more traditional subject-matter disciplines such as literacy and math while keeping the focus on play. To reach these goals, Hudon plans to stock the center's learning space with open-ended materials that invite exploration-materials with a focus on play, imagination, creation, and nature.

As Hudon reflected on sharing advice, she said, "Never take your child care provider for granted because without her, you wouldn't have a job!"

She also shared this wisdom: "Always educate yourself. A child's mind is constantly growing, so in order to keep up with their curious natures and to ensure a balance in the kinds of activities, teaching strategies, and materials children work with, we have to remain sharp. I want to promote optimal development and to ensure that all children use their strengths and engage in activities that develop less preferred ways of thinking. Children are inquisitive by nature, and when they get bored, we're in trouble!"

When she's not caring for other people's children, Hudon enjoys camping, traveling, and spending time with her family. Her husband Tylor works in the oilfield industry.

my grandmother’s place and open a center-based childcare facility across from the old Hart of the West clothing store on Highway 2. I want to develop play centers and design a creative curriculum much like what is used in Head Start. Eventually, I hope to work into a preschool readiness program,” she said.

Research suggests that play is not a luxury; it affects children’s motivation and enables children to formulate ideas and then to test them, to problem solve. Research further reveals that play is more valuable when children plan, define, shape, and carry out their own play activities. Early childhood caregivers facilitate this process by structuring and arranging a play corner with possible activities and then providing adequate time for spontaneous, self-directed play. A theme gives structure to children’s learning and invites their extended engagement with a topic. Creative planning allows for integration of more traditional subject-matter disciplines such as literacy and math while keeping the focus on play. To reach these goals, Hudon plans to stock the center’s learning space with open-ended materials that invite exploration—materials with a focus on play, imagination, creation, and nature.

Little Raskels Daycare Owner, Kayla Hudon

As Hudon reflected on sharing advice, she said, “Never take your child care provider for granted because without her, you wouldn’t have a job!”

She also shared this wisdom: “Always educate yourself. A child’s mind is constantly growing, so in order to keep up with their curious natures and to ensure a balance in the kinds of activities, teaching strategies, and materials children work with, we have to remain sharp. I want to promote optimal development and to ensure that all children use their strengths and engage in activities that develop less preferred ways of thinking. Children are inquisitive by nature, and when they get bored, we’re in trouble!”

When she’s not caring for other people’s children, Hudon enjoys camping, traveling, and spending time with her family. Her husband Tylor works in the oilfield industry.

 
 

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