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Provider of the Month: Teresa Starks

Childcare providers have one of the most important jobs in the world and deserve to be celebrated! That’s why we’ll be highlighting a provider every month based on nominations we’ve received. Is there someone special you’d like to nominate? Let us know! 

Daycare provider Teresa Starks has been serving Reno County families for nearly 20 years. What started as a way to earn an income while staying home with her baby has turned into a legacy of love.   “When you operate a home daycare, you spend a lot of time with the kids and the parents and develop a real bond. I keep an open line of communication with my families so that they know what and how their children are doing. I typically spend years with each family and share lots of laughs and sometimes sorrows too. They become family.”  

Eventually, Teresa was even able to provide care for her own grandchildren in her home.   “I am so thankful that I followed my heart and chose to remain open as my adult daughter had her first baby. I was a single Mom at this point so my daughter and her husband paid for my granddaughter’s spot in my daycare. I felt really bad about this but daycare is not a high paying job and I was still raising some of my own kids.”  

The financial strain of operating an in-home daycare is a prevalent challenge, and Teresa puts in long hours to make it all work.   “My struggles as a home childcare provider include a very long work week for very minimal pay and no benefits. I estimate that I spend an average of 60 hours a week on my daycare. I don’t remember the last time I sat down and watched the news or a movie without laminating or cutting school items out at the same time.”  

Teresa’s love for the children in her care and her dedication to making sure they’re getting a well-rounded, developmentally nourishing experience have kept her going through years, but her hesitance to raise prices nearly caused her to close indefinitely.   “I met with a Financial Advisor to see if there was any hope of ever retiring. He gave me some strategies, but told me quite frankly, ‘You need to raise your rates.’ I told him that wasn't an option, that people in Hutch just can’t afford it. But the costs of home repairs, supplies, and everything else has risen so much. I didn’t know what I could do.”  

Fortunately for Teresa, she’s been able to receive retention grant funds through the American Rescue Plan Act, which is designed to provide unrestricted funding to retain licensed childcare facilities in Reno County.  “The retention grants have been a blessing! Those funds and the promise of continued support and help were my deciding factor to continue my daycare.”  

Teresa, and all of the families she serves and will serve, are grateful that she'll be continuing this priceless service, thanks to the foresight of the Hutchinson City Council and Reno County Board of Commission to invest in quality childcare in Reno County.  

“You know, even when things happen like exploding diapers, it warms my heart to see the kids’ smiles and hear their laughs. THANK YOU for listening to all daycare providers and offering us some relief and support to continue our profession and our passion for keeping our kids loved, safe, well fed and ready to take on school while their parents are working!”  


Please remember to nominate an exceptional childcare provider! 


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