Business Profile: Little Garden Child Care Center, Mt. Kisco

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Mark and Beatrice Santora, co-owners of Little Garden Child Care Center.
Mark and Beatrice Santora, co-owners of Little Garden Child Care Center.

The need for quality day care and preschool programs has never been greater, as most families can’t afford to keep a parent at home. Young children today are also expected to be ready for kindergarten when they walk in the door.

Little Garden Child Care Center in Mount Kisco is one of the newest additions to the local day care and preschool scene, opening in late February at 27 Radio Circle. The nearly 11,000-square-foot space is bright and spacious with a welcoming atmosphere featuring bright colors, clean surroundings and plenty of age-appropriate activities for the children, regardless of whether it’s the infant room, one of the toddler areas or the classrooms for the three- and four-year-old preschool programs.

“It’s a great environment. It’s a happy place,” said Beatrice Santora, the center’s director who co-owns the operation with her husband, Mark. “You walk down the hallway and just the colors and everything is pretty soothing.”

Little Garden Child Care Center stresses flexibility for their children and parents. The center’s day care programs are open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with earlier hours available for parents whose work and family schedule requires earlier drop-offs. Families also have the option of tailoring their children’s day care schedule and the preschool has two-, three- and five-day enrollment options.

Flexibility is also part of the Santoras’ philosophy when it comes to their programs, where children are encouraged to learn through play, can develop their socialization skills and are stimulated through the use of language. While Beatrice Santora, who holds a master’s in early childhood and elementary school education and has been a longtime preschool teacher, sets the programs and curriculum at Little Garden, she doesn’t adhere to a single philosophy, incorporating the best from a variety of programs and approaches.

“I don’t like to adhere to one because you can draw so much good stuff from so many different places,” said Santora, the mother of four children. “I also give my teachers some creative flexibility there, and some kids who transition from one room to the next are not doing the same thing. The teachers are very much their own people in that room and they have many different things to offer, and when they’re put together this was more balanced.”

Benefitting parents for the three- and four-year-old preschool classes is that the program runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Since the center is licensed by the state office of children and family services, Little Garden can run its classes for four hours. Pre-schools that aren’t state licensed have a three-hour daily limit.

The school strictly adheres to the state’s child-teacher ratio standards of 7-1 for the threes and 8-1 for the fours. There are also indoor and outdoor playgrounds for the children.

The Santoras are looking forward to expanding their enrollment for the summer day care schedule and for next school year. Mark Santora, who has an MBA in finance and has nearly completed his master’s in education, said that the parents of 110 children have expressed interest in signing up. The center can hold up to 112 children for day care and 33 preschool students at one time, but more can enroll depending on the schedules.

Mark Santora also said with competitive pricing the center’s rates makes it affordable for families.

“We tried to make it very competitive,” he said. “We’re aware of how much it costs. We’ve been there; we have four children, we know what it’s like.”

Another feature for parents of older children is the before/after-school care for K-6 students. Children can do homework, and when they finish have peers to play with. The before/after-school rooms are split by ages, with one for five- to nine-year-olds and another for 10- to 12-year-olds. Students in the Bedford School District are transported from the center by district transportation in the morning and can be dropped off in the afternoon.

“The need is there for before school/after school, and I think this is the right place for it,” Bea Santora said.

For more information about Little Garden Child Care Center, call 914-241-0445 or visit www.littlegardenkids.com.





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