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Wall Street Journal Sunday
Day-care owner makinig difference
Posted Friday, October 31, 2003

Kim Mikus By Kim Mikus

Laura Racutt has been operating her small day-care facility for nearly 25 years.

White Oak School & Day Care Center is run in an unoccupied home in a residential Mount Prospect community. The facility's location and its atmosphere help make the children feel at home.

Racutt says the facility sits on a half-acre of land that has been transformed into a large play area. To make it feel even more like home, all meals are cooked on-site at the facility which operates from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's open to children ranging in age from 2 to 10. Preschool is held in the morning.

Racutt, 52, worked at White Oak for four years before she bought it almost 25 years ago.

She has seen many changes in the industry. There are now a lot more day-care centers than before.

In addition to competition, the economy plays a significant role in her business. The entrepreneur said she has seen dips in business in the past, but nothing like the effects of Sept. 11, 2001.

With a weakening economy, she has watched as more grandparents and family members have stepped up to take care of children. Many parents only enrolled their children 2 or 3 days a week compared to 5 in the past.

The entrepreneur said business is getting back to normal, but more slowly than ever before.

She employs five accredited staff members and is licensed to enroll 29 children. There are now 18 children enrolled.

Racutt, who has a background in elementary education, said she really enjoys working with children. She and her husband, Ed, have a grown son and daughter.

Racutt believes the small center is able to meet the children's social, physical, emotional and intellectual needs. "We can really give the kids the attention they need," she said.

The entrepreneur enjoys sitting outside in the backyard and watching the children run and play. "It's a small school with a home-like atmosphere," she said.

For more information, call (847) 439-0202.

Small business tips: Business Practices for Tough Times is the name of a No. 4 seminar in Arlington Heights.

Participants will learn 10 "tough times" tactics to use in this difficult economy.

The session takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, 500 N. Dunton Ave.

Bonita Richter, small business specialist at Harper College in Palatine, will present key areas to keep your business strategically sound. The program is free. No registration is required.

New owner: Janet Olivia is the new owner of American Beauty Salon & Spa in Palatine.

Services include Dome European hair extensions, a system that doesn't require hair-damaging chemicals. Bridal packages are available as well as a variety of nail and massage services.

The spa is at 33 E. Northwest Hwy.

Kim Mikus' column appears Tuesdays and Fridays. She welcomes comments at (847) 427-4567 or at

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To contact Kim Mikus send email to

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