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Family day care provider finds joy in caring for kids

Daycare provider Tasha Balsom estimates that she’s changed over 50,000 diapers in the last 20 years.

Balsom, proprietor of Tasha Balsom Family Day Care, based in Lexington, Mass., also owns six high chairs, seven playpens, four Cozy Coupe plastic cars, three slides, a sandbox, and numerous other kid-friendly paraphernalia. She can often be seen walking the streets with her head-turning, multi-seat KinderVan, an expansive stroller that seats up to six kids.

“As any parent can tell you, there’s a lot of stuff that goes along with taking care of children,” says Balsom.

Like many daycare providers, Balsom started her business years ago – “people were even still using cloth diapers then” – as a way to remain with her own daughter while still earning an income by providing quality care for other kids as well. It snowballed from there, says Balsom, a former teacher, who is licensed to care for up to 10 kids, and has two assistants to help her.

With more working parents, and the number of children under age 5 expected to rise at a faster rate than in previous years, Balsom, like many day care providers, is seeing an increased demand for her services. She has a waiting list, and although summer is slower, is currently caring for several infants and a few toddlers.

“You need to be flexible, have a lot of patience, have a good sense of humor, and not get upset when things go wrong,” Balsom says.

As required for licensing, her space is childproofed, with electrical outlets covered, gates blocking stairs, cabinets locked, and other health and safety guidelines followed. “You want to keep kids as happy and safe as possible,” says Balsom, who even renovated her basement and uses it only for childcare. “No more running around, hiding toys when guests arrive.”

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Q: What is required to become a licensed daycare provider?
A:
The requirements range from CPR and first aid certification, and a background check to a written plan of daily activities.

Q: A curriculum? Even for babies?
A:
Yes, that would be tummy time or some other age-appropriate pastime.

Q: Is managing the parents sometimes worse than the children themselves?
A:
Definitely. I’ve had my share of nightmare parents, but fortunately, not that many of them. But one of the nice things about the profession is that you feel you’re definitely making a difference in the lives of children.

Q: Do you stay in touch with the kids that you’ve cared for?
A:
Yes, the oldest is 21 years old now. She was seven months old when she first came to me, and now she’s a beautiful young college student.

Q: How much can a daycare provider earn, after expenses?
A:
Well, there are certainly a lot of costs that people might not think of, everything from snow removal to art supplies, diaper wipes, and gloves to wear while changing diapers. Average earnings might be around $30,000 for a typical family daycare business. But you can’t go in it for the money, but because you love to be with kids. Then the rewards are endless.


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