The first day at his new day care, Logan woke up from his nap and waved at the camera. Sitting at his desk, his father watched the boy's sleepy greeting on his computer screen.
With a new system at Kidding Around Preschool and Day Camp, Joel Smedes can check up on his 4-year-old anytime.
"That's what makes it all worthwhile," Smedes said. "I'm so reassured that my kid's fine and taken care of. It's just awesome."
The care center offers parents the option to view live Web cams as part of the package. Using the Internet, they can see all play rooms and the outside playground.
Owner Kim Perondi, a mother herself, said she wanted to provide the safest possible environment for parents. Besides the expensive video system, the center is equipped with door alarms and other safety features.
"I have two children, and I just have been there," Perondi said. "I thought, how cool would it be if you could see your kids from your desk?"
After working 10 years for the state as a purchasing officer, Perondi decided to change careers and open the center on Janelle Drive. The facility had housed another day-care center but has been totally remodeled, she said.
Originally, she wanted to install cameras to enable her to view each room of the 5,000-square-foot center from her office. Her interest in the Internet and technology led her to expand the camera system to offer Web cams to parents, she said.
"All the employees here are excited when the camera's are going," she said. "And that's the kind of employees we want to have. We have nothing to hide."
Live-action shots Monday afternoon included a brief fling with hula hoops to the tunes of "The Hokey-Pokey."
One toddler rolled around in his walker, checking out the big kids dancing with the colored rings. A stack of books sat neatly in a bookshelf, ready for staff to read. The children have computers and do crafts in the newly painted and clean facility.
Parents who pay the extra $6 a month for the Internet service get a secure password and address. They can log on at anytime during the day for peeks at the activities.
Smedes, his wife and Logan's grandparents can all check in on Logan, watching him reading, playing, dancing and snacking. It reassures Smedes that his child is happy and the day-care staff are providing a creative learning experience. He watches workers read to Logan and do spelling, and he watches him go to sleep at naptime.
"One day, he wore a Peter Pan outfit," Smedes said. "It was the funniest thing."
Parent Rebecca McMenamy said she gets to see her boy pushing around strollers and playing outside.
"I check in on him all day," she said. "I bet it's awesome for the parents with babies who can't come home and tell them what their day's been like."
Cost for the center is from $110 to $125 a week for full-time care. Perondi said she expects to expand programs to include after-school care, preschool and a homework club for older children.
The center has 12 children and five staff, and started its third week of operation this week.
Contact Jill Lufrano at email@example.com or 881-1217.