Jennifer Benedict loves being around kids.
She likes their energy, their inquisitiveness and they're just being plain cute, Mrs. Benedict said.
Her associates degree is in early childhood education. A Sherman native, she worked at New Milford Nursery School while attending college.
She was the child care director at Top Flight in New Milford until its closing in 2012. Now, after 21 years in the childcare field, Mrs. Benedict has opened her own day care center -- Kids in Action -- at 15 Executive Center Drive in New Milford. Parents of 16 children who had attended Top Flight followed her to Kids in Action. Her staff of four includes one college student with a child education background and three women with child care backgrounds.
Opening Kids in Action was the culmination of a long time dream, Mrs. Benedict said -- a dream that came to fruition with some prompting by life.
"My whole world came to a crashing halt when the scandal broke," Mrs. Benedict said of Top Flight owner David Amory's arrest in October for allegedly sexually assaulting two children.
"The scandal had nothing to do with me, but it brought me to a realization that I was through working for other people," she said. "I was going out on my own."
Kids in Action offers full-time child care for children aged 6 weeks to 12 years old. It offers preschool for kids aged 3 to 5.
There is a before and after school program, a Parents' Night Out offered one Friday a month, and summer camp.
For New Milford mom Jennifer Douglas, following Mrs. Benedict from Top Flight was a given.
"We'd made an immediate connection when I enrolled my daughter, Keira, at Top Flight," Mrs. Douglas said. "Keira was 3 and she gained confidence and independence."
"I love Jennifer's teaching style, the way her teachers get down and interact with the children," Mrs. Douglas added. "My daughter loves the tumble room and all the creative activities."
The mother of a 6-year-old daughter, Mrs. Benedict is also earning a second college degree in administration and supervision, attending Naugatuck Community College.
"Now I'm able to implement practices and ideas that I've been developing over the years," she said. "I love being around kids. They're very energetic and curious."
Most children were already enrolled in another childcare program when she opened in January. Yet Mrs. Benedict is confident, with the summer and fall, enrollment will grow from its present 17 children.
Kids in Action is licensed for 108 children. The spacious site is 5,800 square feet. Its tumbling room is a padded area in which a mini-obstacle course provides an outlet for children during inclement weather.
Field trips will include the Pratt Center and Harris Hill Farm.
Summer camp will include trips to the beach -- either Warren Town Beach or a beach at Mount Tom Pond.
For more photos, visit www.New Milfordspectrum.com