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Q&A; for child-care challenges


Kathy Lating-Wise of Havre de Grace and Elizabeth "Libby" Lawson-Lilley of Cub Hill recently released their first book, Letters of Advice for Child Care Providers - a compilation of early elementary child-care questions and advice.

The book is a series of queries sent from day-care provider Lating-Wise to pediatric nurse practitioner Lawson-Lilley, who answers questions in a "Dear Abby"-type manner.

Chapters such as health, development, socialization and eating habits categorize 100 child-care problem scenarios, conveyed with humor by Lating-Wise.

The book addresses issues such as vomiting, bathroom behavior and chronic nail-biting among young children.

"For me, it's funny," she said. "I had the easy part. I just wrote down what happened. Libby actually had to come up with the answers."

With four children of her own and 30 years of experience in pediatrics, Lawson-Lilley has substantial knowledge on children and their behavior.

The book addresses "things that are handy to every home," she said. "We think it's a great tool to child-care providers and parents as well. It's in layman's terms so anybody can understand."

The problems addressed in the book took place in Lating-Wise's day-care facility, which she has been running out of her home in Havre de Grace for the past seven years.

While raising her own 13-year-old daughter, Alex, she spends 12 hours a day caring for eight children, ranging from 15 months to 10 years old, before and after school.

She also supervises a handful of children all day. Lating-Wise said she and her daughter have grown attached to the children she looks after, all of whom are from Havre de Grace.

The day-care center benefitted her daughter, she said. "Being that she's an only child, I was worried she would be spoiled," she said.

"But she had to learn to share all of her toys and her mommy. It was really good for her."

The two authors met in 1982, Lawford-Lilley said, at a medical center in Baltimore, while Lating-Wise worked as her medical assistant.

Over time, the women took different positions at different locations throughout Maryland but remained friends.

When Lating-Wise was faced with difficult child-care issues after establishing her day-care facility, she looked to Lawford-Lilley for help.

Years later, the two women realized they could help educate parents and child-care providers by sharing their correspondence from the past seven years.

"Originally we just enjoyed doing it," Lawford-Lilley said. "But then we saw that people could actually benefit from our letters to each other."

The two women chose 100 situations that they thought would benefit readers most, she said. To their surprise, assembling and revising their letters for the book took more than three years.

Both authors will be speaking at a conference for the Child Care Association at the Bel Air branch of the Harford County Public Library Tuesday to answer questions from other child-care providers.

In the future, Lawson-Lilley and Lating-Wise hope to create a series of books pertaining to pre-teens and teens.

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