St. Francis child care center celebrates 10 years

The farm will be coming to the Kids Country Childcare Center July 15.

Owner Dana Hoenigschmidt is preparing for the Kids Country Child Care Center’s 10th anniversary party. One of the featured attractions will be the barn that the children at the center helped decorate as a float for the June 16 St. Francis Pioneer Days parade. Photo by Tammy Sakry

Owner Dana Hoenigschmidt is preparing for the Kids Country Child Care Center’s 10th anniversary party. One of the featured attractions will be the barn that the children at the center helped decorate as a float for the June 16 St. Francis Pioneer Days parade. Photo by Tammy Sakry

Pigs, goats, chickens, cats and maybe a llama will be on hand to help the St. Francis child care center and its current and past students celebrate the center’s 10th anniversary.

It just seemed appropriate because they are Kids Country, said owner Dana Hoenigschmidt.

As Hoenigschmidt talked about the party plans for July 15, her current students were getting off the bus from their field trip to Pinehaven Farm in Wyoming.

The students go on two field trips a month, Hoenigschmidt said.

This summer the students will be trekking to Bunker Beach, Elm Creek Park, the Princeton splash park and Como Zoo.

Some of the students even helped Hoenigschmidt and her staff by being part of the St. Francis Pioneer Days parade.

The Kid Country Childcare Center won second place for the parade float, Hoenigschmidt said.

 

Barn building

After working for other child care centers since she was a teenager, Hoenigschmidt decided in 2000 it was time to open up her own child care business.

In high school she worked as an aide for Children’s Home Society and then at For Kids Only in Andover before going to college in Winona, Hoenigschmidt said.

Once done with school, the former Coon Rapids resident returned to the area and was hired as a director for KinderCare Child Care Center in 1994.

Two years later, Hoenigschmidt, who was pregnant at the time, returned to For Kids Only.

“I got tired of running everyone else’s businesses,” said the Ramsey resident about opening her own child care center.

Partnering with her husband Dustin, Hoenigschmidt set out to find the best spot for her new business.

St. Francis at the time had very limited child care options, she said.

With a site located in the budding St. Francis Centre development, the Hoenigschmidts built the barn-shaped building.

The 5,500 square-foot building with its five rooms brings the country to life inside with mural paintings and decor.

Most of her 24 employees have been with Hoenigschmidt since the beginning.

Hoenigschmidt started with 50 children and 15 staff members.

They are now at 92 children, from six weeks to 12 years old, and 24 staff members, Hoenigschmidt said.

Over the years, the make up of the children has slowly changed to reflect the changing community.

When they first started, the children were mostly blonde and blue eyed, Hoenigschmidt said.

A lot of them still are, but there is a lot more cultural diversity, she said.

There are quite a few children of mixed race, African American and Vietnamese heritage, Hoenigschmidt said.

“It is exciting for us. We went a long time with no culture,” she said.

 

Community ties

Shortly after opening up her child care center, Hoenigschmidt became involved in the community.

In 2003, the Minnesota Women of Today approached her about allowing the St. Francis branch to meet in her facility.

Hoenigschmidt said yes and the group has been meeting at the center every since.

She also became a member and went on to hold a position on the Women of Today’s state board.

Hoenigschmidt is also very active with the American Cancer Society and is an advocate for cancer research funding.

 

Aluminum anniversary

Hoenigschmidt and her staff are hoping that their nearly 800 former children and families will travel back to the center to help them celebrate the 10th anniversary.

They will be having a hot dog barbecue at the center, 23256 St. Francis Blvd. N.W. as well games, crafts and entertainment Sunday, July 15, from 2 to 5 p.m.

For more information, check out Kids Country’s website, www.kidscountrychildcare.com.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com


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