A full house

. September 6, 2012.

There are daycare centers — and then there are homes. West Toledo's I Can Do All Things Daycare, owned and run by Suzette Cason, is more the latter than the former. Literally, in this case — I Can Do All Things is run from Cason's modest-but-charming West Toledo house, and for her young charges and their parents, it's a  home away from home.

"I love kids," Cason says, and it's easy to believe her. She's a veteran of three decades in the childcare business, working for Toledo Day Nursery for 25 years. (She also works professionally as Cici the clown!) During that time, she raised her own son, James (and now has her first grandchild).   Ten years ago, she felt ready to work for herself. All she needed was a name.

"I was at church one night," she remembers. "Thinking 'what would I name my daycare?'" That same evening, she heard her favorite scriptural passage, Phiippians 4:13 ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.") She knew she'd found a name — and a philosophy. She believes in the children she cares for, and constantly strives to raise their confidence. "I don't let them say 'I can't,'" she says. When a child is struggling with a task, she says "I tell them to say 'I need a little help.'"

A leap of faith

Starting out on her own was "a leap of faith," Cason says. The business began with only one client, and Cason struggled for a while. But over the past decade she's thrived, and currently cares for 15 children daily, from infants to 12-year-olds. Infants are a challenge to Cason's communication skills (which with older children she considers a strength), but it's a challenge she relishes.

"My motto is learning through play," Cason says, and through hands-on activities, I Can Do All Things' children are learning whether they're aware or not. Communal cooking sessions give kids the power to help control what they eat, while teaching valuable lessons in everything from math to team skills. She's especially passionate about introducing children raised in the city to the outdoors. "We barely watch TV" outside of some educational programming, she insists. "I'd rather take them outside. I know they (watch TV) at home." She's not afraid to let the kids get their hands dirty, learning about nature in the way that children always have.

With field trips to the Toledo Museum of Art and the library, there's always something to keep Cason's charges engaged and busy. And she wants to keep parents engaged, too, sending home daily updates and encouraging them to take an interest in their childrens' activities.

"My biggest weakness is office work," Cason says. "I'd rather be out there having fun with the kids and teaching them." But that's hardly a weakness for someone as enthusiastic and engaged as Cason. Now, she's on the verge of outgrowing her home, and is ready to start looking for a new space for her business. "It's time to pray and get direction," she says. And it's easy to believe Cason will have no trouble finding it.