New year, new home: Dysart daycare opens doors to new facility

One of the youngest attendees at Little Knights Learning Center in Dysart takes a peek inside a large motor toy in the infant room on Tuesday, August 3. Photo Ruby F. Bodeker

Little Knights Learning Center officially welcomed children to their new child care facility at 1102 Clark Street, Dysart on Tuesday, July 27 and the transition has been nothing short of fantastic.

“We got the go-ahead from DHS [Department of Human Services] on Monday [July 28] afternoon at 4:30 and by 6:30 [a.m.] Tuesday we were opened!” Little Knights Director Megan Bessman said. “We’re still trying to find all our stuff, but we’re here!”

Previously located within the Dysart-Geneseo Elementary School building, the new facility was built following a $1.4 million capital campaign of which more than $850,000 has already been raised.

“Our board and staff spent the week packing and slowly moving things. It’s gone very smoothly,” Bessman said.

Capacity for the new center sits at 85 children and they’re almost full as of this publication.

A brand new classroom at Little Knights Learning Center in Dysart. The child care center moved from their previous location at Dysart-Geneseo Elementary School to their new facility on Tuesday, July 27. Photo Ruby F. Bodeker

At the previous location, Little Knights always maintained a healthy wait list, Bessman said, and that looks to become the norm at the new location as well as illustrating the stubborn fact that finding quality child care anywhere in the state of Iowa is a constant problem in need of more solutions.

“For the most part it’s teachers and school employees [enrolling children at Little Knights]. We have kids from as far away as Hudson. … Being at capacity is a good problem to have, but we’re it [for daycare in Dysart]. There’s one in-home provider left in town.”

“We have a lot of parents who work in Waterloo and Cedar Falls,” Assistant Director Hannah Hix said.

“We’re a small town, community daycare. A one-stop shop. We’re as close to the school as we could be … we’ll walk the kids to preschool [at DG],” Bessman said.

The site on which the new facility is located is mere steps from DG Elementary on a lot that was previously used for recreation soccer.

Children in Little Knights Learning Center’s preschool-aged room shake their wiggles out by dancing on Tuesday, August 3. Photo Ruby F. Bodeker

The new building has its own kitchen — something they didn’t have at DG — and a full size laundry facility.

“Before we could wash like four blankets and that was it,” Bessman said.

T The new center also boasts five spacious classrooms — they had three at DG — each with their own sinks and bathrooms. Most of the toys are new as well as the tables, chairs, and cubbies.

A playground will be installed in the spring of 2022.

But how do the children like the new center?

Little Knights Learning Center Assistant Director Hannah Hix (right) and Director Megan Bessman work in their new office spaces, now connected by a sliding window. At the child care center’s previous location at DG Elementary, Hix and Bessman shared an office. Photo Ruby F. Bodeker

“They love it!” Bessman said.

“They’re excited to be here,” Hix added.

The only real difficulty in any of the rooms initially was nap time for the toddlers — everything was a bit peculiar at first, but that was a quick transition, Bessman said, and it’s like they’ve always been here now.

As simple as it seems, no longer having to store snack foods in the tiny office refrigerator — something they had to do at the old site — seems revolutionary.

Not having staff eat their lunches and take breaks in the cramped shared-office space Bessman and Hix used at DG also feels like a luxury, Bessman said–staff now have their own break room. A perk Bessman hopes will help in her quest to hire new staff.

A brand new space & year at Little Knights Learning Center, Dysart. Photo Ruby F. Bodeker

“We are getting calls daily to see if we have room for children in need of daycare,” a recent post on the Little Knights Facebook page reads. “Because of these calls, we need more staff!”

Those interested in a child care career with Little Knights Learning Center-Dysart are asked to call 319-476-2226 to set up an interview.