Meet Sally Baumgartner Duffy of “Duffy’s Family Child Care” in San Jose

Sally Baumgartner Duffy runs a Child Care business in San Jose, California called “Duffy’s Family Child Care. She isn’t your run of the mill daycare provider who shuts her doors at six o’clock and says work is over, then forgets all about the children she cares for. After being in the business for as long as she has, she built a name that is known in the community, not only for her childcare business which is warm and well run but for the work she does in every venue of her life. In addition to all this, she is also planning to be a part of Houston Daycare Services. There she will be able to spread her love even more. Besides Sally, there are other professionals there that are equally passionate about their job. 

Sally takes the step beyond and jumps right in when help is needed, whether it is after school activities, neighborhood functions or services to a larger community. She donates plasma to the Red Cross. She has run many years of scout cookie sales long after her own daughter was not even in the scouts anymore. She opens up her home for friends and meetings, Red Cross CPR training, craft and game functions, parents and neighbors and countless other events, too many to remember them all. She is often teased about never sitting still for very long.

How long have you been running your own childcare business and why did you start?

I started in 1992 and I did it so I could stay home with my own children. It became a full-time job.

How many kids have you taken care of over that time period?

I have lost count, over 50. Many stays for years.

How many kids can you care for at a time?

I take care of between 1 and 14 children at any given time.

What is the most difficult part of running a childcare service?

Taking days off, and always being there for the parents when they need me. Parents don’t like it when you take days off.

Do you see the kids you knew at the beginning of your business? How old are they now?

Yes, I still see them. We are very close, like my own children. The first two are now 17 and 18.

What are some of the most memorable events that have happened in your childcare?

One is when one of the mothers had a special plaque made for me that says “Best Day Care”. I took care of her daughter from the time she was very small. She is now 17 and comes to my home as an extra helper with the daycare when I need one. I took care of her for 12 years.

What are the hidden costs of running a daycare that most people are not aware of?

To start with, you have to have all the basic materials and supplies. It is a little easier when you already have kids of your own so some of the things you need are already there.

Financially, there are so many hidden costs with things like insurance and ongoing supplies, food, maintaining the house, wear and tear on everything, far beyond the norm.

Personally, it is very hard for your own family.

What age group and ranges do you work with?

I began with infants and went up to junior high. Currently, I am working with 5 to 13-year-olds.

Why do you prefer that age group?

The age group I am with now is much easier to go on field trips and do special activities with, the older kids, although I do miss the preschoolers.

You take the kids on outings and field trips, something many daycares do not do. What places have you gone to?

Some of the places have included the San Francisco Zoo, The Jelly Belly Factory, swimming outings, Great America, Happy Hollow, The Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey, strawberry picking, The San Jose Tech Museum, to the movies and many other places over the years.

How do you keep track of all the children on an outing?

When I had younger ones, we had matching t-shirts we all wore so they were easily identifiable as part of my group. The older ones don’t like that though. We use a buddy system so no child is ever by themselves anywhere we go. They are not allowed to wander off on their own.

If I have more than 8 children on an outing I bring another helper along. We always establish a central meeting place too.

What suggestions do you have for someone getting into the business?

You need to love children and have a lot of patience to run a childcare from your own home.

Does the down economy affect your business and how?

Yes, I am at about half capacity right now. When parents lose their jobs or are making cutbacks in their own budgets, childcare is often one of the first things to go. I am on the lookout for new kids right now.

The daycare business can be very competitive when there are fewer families looking for available daycare spots. Sally provides a well-rounded childcare service, feeding, entertaining and caring for so many different children. It is amazing to see how efficient she is and still has time for each child as an individual.

A childcare provider, like a parent, has to play many roles in the job. Sally does them all with extra flair and a big heart. In the world at large she may not be a famous face but it the community and in the childcare business, she is a well-known and much-loved part of the world.

There are many families through the years whose lives would not have run as smoothly and as warmly if Sally had not been in the picture. The movie “It is a Wonderful Life” fits her in many ways. By choosing this career she gave up many things in her own life but in the long run, she has gained so much more, respect, love, and admiration from a generation of children and their families and pride in a job she does well. In every life she has touched, she makes a difference.