If you’ve ever picked your child up from day care and wondered how on Earth your child’s teacher has the patience to deal with a classroom full of toddlers all day, here’s your chance to find out.
Candice Montes owns Here We Grow Child Care in Yukon, a child development center that started at her home and grew into a full-blown care center.
Candice and her husband of 14 years, Guillermo, have four children: Angelica, 16; Adrianna, 12; Guillermo, 10 and Guyel, 4. Candice draws on her own parenting skills to serve the kids at Here We Grow. In addition, she has a variety of life experiences that have set her up to be a successful caregiver, starting with her own upbringing.
Candice was raised in the foster care system. From a very young age, she realized she wanted to create a better situation for herself. Through her rough childhood, Candice said she used to tell herself to take note of all the negative experiences. She grew up determined to provide a better environment for her own kids than what she had.
Beyond her determination to be loving and consistent toward children, her previous work experience and her own parenting skills guide her management of the care center. Candice worked for three years as a high school Spanish teacher and got a degree in psychology before opening Here We Grow.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with children,” she said.
So after getting her degree, Candice worked as a director for a day care center. Soon after, she transitioned to running her own home-based day care, which she managed successfully for two years. Candice quickly found her home day care completely full with a growing waiting list.
She hated turning parents and children away, so she wanted to help accommodate more families and realized the best way to do that was by branching out from home care and expanding to owning her own day care center.
“I felt like I was displacing families,” Candice said. “I had a waiting list, but I didn’t have spots opening. Eventually I started looking at other options.”
To accommodate more kids, she opened Here We Grow for school-age kids in March and opened it to kids of all ages in May.
Candice’s philosophy about providing child care to other families closely mirrors her own parenting style. She believes in having a lot of fun at home and letting children experience natural consequences for their actions. She cares for the kids at her center as if they were her own, she said.
“My biggest thing is advocating for children,” she said, “to make sure they are happy, healthy and safe.”
As for the parents she serves, it’s important to Candice to make sure their parenting styles and decisions are respected, even when their kids are at day care.
“I want to advocate for how you believe your children need to be raised,” she said. “So if you don’t want them to have certain things in their diet, I want to be able to help with that. If cloth diapers are your choice, then absolutely let’s do cloth diapers. There are a lot of ways that I can respect a parent’s choices.”
The center features four classrooms and 10 teachers who also adhere to Candice’s philosophies for care. Candice believes being a good mom and providing reliable care to other families has helped her move beyond the challenges faced during her own childhood.
“What do I say about being a mommy?” She smiled. “It’s the greatest thing ever.”