Jacksonville daycare begins with a different approach to working with children

A new daycare center opened on West Lafayette Avenue individually caters to each child in their care to meet the growing needs of all.

Janene Purdon-Menke, owner and operator of the day care center The Little Red Wagon at 3001 W. Lafayette Ave., officially opened the doors of the center on April 14th and enrollment is already almost 50% full.

“Daycare has always been a passion of mine,” said Purdon-Menke, who also works in the real estate industry. “This is my real passion.”

The centre’s approach to working with each child individually helps the children grow, whether they are 6 months old, 10 years old or have any disability, Purdon-Menke said.

“Many of the children are on the (autism) spectrum,” she said. “Other places can be rigid, but we keep them involved and engaged.”

With a maximum occupancy of 133 people during the day and 44 people at night, the center also has a therapy room and therapy animals that can look after children, including the Snap and Ginger miniature ponies that have been specially trained as therapy animals.

“You are all so happy here,” said Purdon-Menke. “Individualism is the key. Every child has their own niche. ”

Parents Mindy and Cody Brant recently moved their 1 year old to The Little Red Wagon and are happy with the growth of their newborn.

“I’m so happy here,” said Mindy Brant. “Our 1 year old walked away from me and fed him by eating hand to mouth,” she said.

Cody Brant agreed, adding that “he’s a little more independent now”.

Cody Brant also appreciated the daycare’s safety measures and cleaning efforts, he said.

“It’s 100% safe to sign in or pick him up,” he said, noting that the daily reports state what and what her son ate when his diaper was changed.

The idea of ​​opening the center started for Purdon-Menke in November.

“I couldn’t have done this without an eight-strong core of supporters,” she said. “You have made a leap of faith in me.”

Lindsey Lacey, a certified teacher at The Little Red Wagon studying to become a licensed assistant director, was one of those core groups.

“We painted a lot,” she said. She also helped with submissions, gave tours, and created the center’s Facebook page.

With her home daycare experience, Lacey was excited about moving to a center where she could work with more children.

“When you come to daycare, it’s very different,” she said. “I like that a lot better.”

Lacey works with preschoolers and can now work with multiple students from different families.

“I can interact with 20 kids,” she said.

For Purdon-Menke, who now has 42 employees, the opening of the center is just the beginning. Your future plans are to be able to open on the weekends and eventually build a pool in the ground. Children can safely learn to be near a pool and teach them to swim.

The center is currently open Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to midnight.

“We are licensed to be open until midnight,” Purdon-Menke said, adding that the evenings can accommodate people who work in places like the Passavant Area Hospital, Nestle and Reynolds Consumer Products.

“We have a lot of people from Passavant,” she said.

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