‘Grandma’s house’ daycare
Even though she’s a licensed daycare provider, Lois Lepp strives to provide a setting not typically found in most daycares.
“My philosophy is to be providing an atmosphere of going to grandma’s house,” said Lepp, who has been doing daycare for 30 years in her Dodge Center home. She prides herself on having a “calm atmosphere” for the children in
her daycare. “Safety is first. I don’t allow any running in the house or loud noises,” she said.
Her efforts of providing quality childcare are being recognized by others. As part of Licensed Family Child Care Provider Week, the Dodge County Licensed Child Care Association is honoring Lepp as the provider of the year for Dodge County.
Lepp, who describes herself as a humble person, says she is honored to receive the award. She was one of three providers nominated for the award and then picked by the other
55 members in Dodge County.
In Minnesota, there are more than 8,200 licensed family care providers watching 60,764 infants and children.
She is in her second round of providing daycare. After moving to Dodge Center in 1982, she took on daycare for 14 years before burning out. At the time, Lepp said she was handling several kids with behavioral problems, including ADHD, and just couldn’t continue on. She took off for five years.
But then her own grandchildren entered into the picture, causing Lepp to go back into daycare. “When your first grandchild is born, it’s a whole different story,” she said, noting she has taken care of all five of her grandchildren who live close by.
Lepp currently carries a group family license and takes care of eight kids under the age of 5. She refers to some of them as her “daycare grandkids.” She takes care of a 3-year-old whose mother also had Lepp as a daycare provider in the late 1980s.
Over the years Lepp has enjoyed watching her daycare kids grow up
even after they leave her care. “I enjoy keeping in touch with them as they go into adulthood,” Lepp said.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a daycare provider for Lepp has been when she hears from her former kids. “They’ll tell me often about the good memories they had here as kids,” she said.
At one time Lepp took care of as many as 10 kids Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, her schedule has become more relaxed in recent years. She said she likes to have the freedom to take part-time kids. “I have always appreciated to be at home,” she said.
“The work comes to me, and I can set my own hours.” Lepp does not follow a specific curriculum with her children. She tries to use real-life situations as teaching aides. For example, one time a backhoe was working on her street, and she took the children out to watch the workers. Afterwards, they picked up and read books about construction. “They talked about it for days,” she said.
“We learn as free play,” Lepp says. “We’re always going something, but it’s not a structured school.”
The daycare provider is saddened about how other providers are dropping out at an alarming rate. In Dodge County, for example, many of the providers are at or nearing retirement age. Lepp said some of them have been at it for 40 years or more. Another reason Lepp finds for the shortage of providers is because of the stringent restrictions placed on daycares, especially with infant care.
As for Lepp, she is nearing retirement herself. She plans to hang it up next May. She realizes dhe will miss being a provider, but there are too many other things fighting for her time.
“I have too many hobbies,” Lepp said. She plans to devote more of her time to crafts, sewing and quilting.
But for now Lepp will continue doing daycare for another year. “It has been very rewarding,” she said.