Pat McLain started an in-home day care in 1972 as a way to stay home with her own children. Fast forward 41 years later, and she is still in the profession and making a positive impact on children.
"I think it's very important that children grow up in a safe and loving environment," McLain said. "I love taking care of children."
She and her husband Bill have five children, and she even had some of their 18 grandchildren at their day care through the years.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Pat McLain watches over her day care kids Thursday in her Marshalltown home. She has run a daycare for the past 41 years.
She said she is most proud of the influence and the values she has passed on to the children she has cared for, which totals an estimated 300 throughout the years.
There have also been children who were cared for by McLain at the day care who grew up and brought their own children to her daycare. Through the years, the day care business - and the children - sure have changed, McLain said.
She remembers living in Nebraska and caring for 15 preschoolers at one time before the laws limited the amount of kids. She also said kids today are more into video games and television, and she would like to see more use their creativity.
McLain often gets asked how she has the energy to do what she does for so long. She said the children give her that energy.
"They keep me moving," McLain said.
McLain said she couldn't have had the long career without the support of her husband. He comes home from work every day to make lunch for the day care.
The McLains are also a strong military family that has, generation after generation, served the country.
"It makes you more compassionate to children," McLain said.
Crista Whaley has had her four children go to McLain's daycare and said she is wonderful with children.
"She's always been more like family to us," Whaley said.
Retirement for McLain is nearing in the next few years as she waits for the younger children to grow and is not taking any more younger ones.
She believes in the impact daycare providers can have on children.
"Kids are our future," McLain said. "If you don't train them and work with them, you aren't going to have a future."