Joyce McClanahan sits in the backyard of what is her home and her business: Loving Care Child Care. According to Mary Pat Ettinger-Dunn, "Joyce's backyard is probably the best park in the city."

Photo by Andie Tessler

Joyce McClanahan sits in the backyard of what is her home and her business: Loving Care Child Care. According to Mary Pat Ettinger-Dunn, "Joyce's backyard is probably the best park in the city."

Craig's Joyce McClanahan receives grant to help with day care business

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— The everyday heroes around us make the world a better place one moment at a time, seeking neither reward nor recognition. If you ask around, people will tell you that Joyce McClanahan is one of those heroes. Now, McClanahan is getting some of the appreciation she deserves.

In June 2010, McClanahan opened Loving Care Child Care in the basement of her flower-drenched home in Craig and became an approved day care provider through Social Services.

“This is my first grant,” McClanahan exclaimed, gazing around a bright, cheerful yellow room dominated on one wall by a big green chalkboard and filled with toys, books and games. “When they delivered everything it was like Christmas.”

McClanahan, who holds a degree in early childhood development, recently received a $750 grant from Connections 4 Kids, allowing her to create a book nook and purchase teaching aids like puppets and a Drive and Play rug.

“What she’s doing and the activities she does is so far above just a day care — what she really runs is a preschool,” said Mary Pat Ettinger-Dunn, who has two grandchildren in McClanahan’s care. “The crafts they do, the things they bring home, it’s amazing. She really is a teacher.”

In addition to the grant, McClanahan and her husband, Tim, provided about $2,000 to remodel and expand the day care’s classroom space, with Tim McClanahan doing much of the work himself.

“It doubled the size of the room, but I still want it 6 feet wider and 9 feet longer,” McClanahan said with a laugh.

There currently are 11 children enrolled at Loving Care Child Care, meaning it’s a full roster. The number of children that can be cared for at any given time is capped at six plus two after school because of space limitations.

“My dream is to turn the old office into a sleep room and the other room into a kitchenette,” McClanahan confessed. “I like to offer a home away from home for these kids and help them learn to express their individuality.”

Some of the children that come through McClanahan’s door need more personal care and attention than others, and she seems to have a gift for bringing troubled, sometimes tantrum-prone children out of their shells.

“She recently took in a 4-year-old girl with emotional problems because of a really unstable home life. She and two siblings were removed from the home,” Ettinger-Dunn said. “This girl was sent to a day care provider, and the provider called to say ‘pick her up,’ after an hour and a half.”

The next day, the girl was brought to McClanahan.

“She was still in diapers at 4 years old,” McClanahan said. “She was angry — she had outbursts. I really wasn’t sure I could handle her, but I’m glad I stuck it out with her.”

Only one month later, the little girl is potty trained, playing with other children and by all accounts much happier, but that doesn’t mean McClanahan is breathing easy.

“That’s a real worry of mine, that these kids will go back to the environment they were taken out of and revert back to the way they were before in that situation,” she said. “The way I see it, a child is a child, and I don’t think there’s one in the world that won’t blossom when you pay them attention, make them feel safe and loved. It doesn’t take much to really make a difference in a child’s life.”

Andie Tessler can be reached at 970-875-1793 or atessler@CraigDailyPress.com.

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