ZEPHYRHILLS — A new day care and preschool in Zephyrhills opening next month will offer parents the ability to monitor their child’s activities from their smartphones or their computers through the building’s elaborate camera system.
Wee Warriors Daycare and Preschool is scheduled to open Aug. 25 at Fair Haven Baptist Church, 34927 Eiland Blvd., where the church also operates Zephyrhills Christian Academy, a K-12 and college prep school.
Church Pastor Mike Smith, who has been the school principal since 1997, said the opening of the day care will fill a gap in their educational program.
“Now we are able to meet the need for a good, clean, secure day care. We can meet the needs of the community by going from diapers to diplomas.”
Wee Warriors’ security system won’t allow anyone to enter the building without being granted access.
In the classroom, the children’s activities are captured by a 16-camera system.
“Each one of these rooms you can look on your smartphone and watch your kids so you can be at work and check in on your kid,” Smith said “You’ll get a vision of the entire room and the same thing in every single classroom.”
The monitoring is made possible by an app downloaded to a smartphone or computer and a code issued to parents or guardians giving them access.
“We came up with the idea because a lot of the fear of sending your kids to a day care today is, ‘Are my kids being abused?’ or ‘What’s going on with my kids while they are there all day?’ We want to know what’s going on with our babies,” Smith continued. “We figured it would be a good idea to put a camera in every room that is accessible to the parents. They’ll have a code that they’ll be able to go to, and at any time during the day, they can open up their kids’ classroom and see their kids.”
The camera system costs about $12,000 to install. Smith believes it is the only day care in the local area with parent-accessible cameras.
Technician Elliot Rondon of Low-Voltage Technologies of Brandon said he has installed some similar systems in Brandon and Tampa, but “this is probably going to be the first location, [in the Zephyrhills area]. It’s a great idea because any time during the day, the parents can log in and make sure everything is going good with their kids. They can see real time, and the DVR will allow what they call pinch-to-zoom so they can digitally enhance the picture if they want to get a closer view of their child inside the classroom. They can also do a screen capture if they want to take a picture of their kid while they are in class.”
Along with security, Smith plans to have a top-notch educational program.
“We’ll go infants all the way through 5 years old VPK (Voluntary Pre Kindergarten) program and we’ll also do Early Childhood Coalition, which is for families who are financially in need. It will pay for their kids in day care and it will pay for their before and after school. We’ll have two teachers certified for VPK.”
Amber Logan, school director, said her staff will have more than basic requirements.
“They all have to have background screening and fingerprints — that’s state requirements,” Logan said. “We’re also requiring that staff will be working on getting their child development associate credential. That’s not required, but we would like to have all our staff do that.”
Both Smith and Logan said that cameras do not mean that they will be lax on discipline.
“We’re not going to shy away from discipline,” Smith said. “There has to be correction if a kid bites or if a kid won’t listen, so we have a disciplinary policy in place to be able to handle that — it also protects us — we’re not putting our hands on the kids, were not doing things like that.”
Logan said the staff will be trained in school disciplinary policies, and parents will sign a disciplinary policy so they will understand what they see if they witness discipline being administered.
The cost of sending a child to school starts at $165 a week for infants with discounts for multiple children. Before- and after-school care is $60 per week. For information about the day care or the Zephyrhills Christian Academy or to register contact Logan at (813) 779 1648.