Los Lunas

Imagine dropping your child off at child care and later being able to monitor his or her every move on the Internet.

With the help of unique web cameras, Con Carino Christian Child Development Center is making history by giving parents the opportunity to view their kids on kinderkid.com from home or work.

They are the first center in New Mexico to begin such a program.

“We should have the system set up and ready to go within a month,” said Felix Candelaria, who operates the child care center with his wife, Sarah, the director of the program.

The couple’s two children Marissa, 7, and Miranda, 4, attend Con Carino along with 26 other children.

“The families here are really close to us. A lot of the kids have been with us since they were infants. We think of them as our kids,” he said.

Ten cameras are situated throughout the building with one located by the playground outside and another by the parking lot entrance.

A monitor system is situated in Felix’s office which reflects what is going on in every room.

“Parents see pictures inside and out of the kids,” Candelaria says. “Each camera zooms inside to see what they are doing in every room. We save the videotapes for 30 days.”

What makes the program at Con Carino even more unique is that parents will have to possess a password to enter the website. That password changes every month. “Parents have a secure, four digit code to see how their child is doing,” he said.

Security is an important safety factor at the child care center. No stranger can enter Con Carino without a code. Parents clock in and clock out after bringing their kids inside.

“We’ve heard stories about kids escaping from child care,” Candelaria said. “We wanted to make sure the toddlers can’t leave. You have to hold down the handle and press a button to open the door. And, there’s another code to push before you enter. We want safety for our kids so strangers can’t come in.”

A phone system has been installed in every room so none of the teachers have to leave the toddler or children when call for assistance.

“At some places, employees leave the children unattended to talk with other employees. We wanted to avoid what we were seeing. All of this security brings about peace of mind. For parents, it’s worth it,” Candelaria said.

For eight years, the Candelarias have operated Con Carino, the business they named “With Love” in Spanish, at a smaller location. The center is now open at the old Jehovah’s Witness building at 1716 Los Lentes NE and has expanded to offer more service.

“We take care of more kids since the expansion. We have 26 right now with the capacity for 48,” said Sarah Candelaria. “The kids don’t get bored because they’re changing activities throughout the day.”

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. babies, toddlers, preschoolers and children up to the age of 12 find a home away from home at Con Carino.

Kids attending the structured Christian child care center follow a daily routine where they are involved in arts and crafts, Bible study, and Spanish. Older children work on computer skills and there is always daily homework.

“We teach them about housekeeping. They have to put everything back in place after play time. They throw out the trash and set and clear the table,” she said.

When dinner time rolls around, the kids enjoy family style dining where they serve themselves in the spacious commercial kitchen.

The fee is $95 a week to attend Con Carino Christian Child Development Center.

“Most other centers average $130 to $145 a week,” Candelaria said. “Eighty percent of our families are low income. Our focus was to help them. Its been blessing.”

To find out more about Con Carino, call 565-8023.

“They take what they want and fill their own milk cups,” Felix says. “The family atmosphere is very different from being stored away at school. Here, the kids say a prayer before dinner and it feels like home.”

“We transport our kids to all the summer school programs in Los Lunas. We pick them up and take them home from school after parents sign an authorization form,” he said.

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Jennifer Harmon