Betty and Doniese

Family Life Instructors at Avera McKennan

Doniese Wilcox:

As a child development and family relations major at South Dakota State University, I knew I wanted to work in the childcare education field after my first human development course. And now I have been working with children and families in various settings ranging from preschool to parent education for more than 35 years. I love my job as a Certified Family Life Instructor at Avera McKennan because I have the opportunity to work with both children and adults in diverse situations. Some days I might be teaching babysitting courses and others I might be presenting a puppet show to children to educate them on burns. Every day is different and I love that.

My husband and I have three grown daughters and we are the proud grandparents to two young grandsons. In my spare time I enjoy reading, baking, sewing, traveling and relaxing with our family cat, Callie.

Betty Barto-Smith:

I believe that parents are a child’s first and most important teachers, so I am happy to be providing knowledge as a Certified Family Life Educator at Avera McKennan. With a BSN from the University of Texas at Arlington and graduate work in human development at SDSU, I have been working in parent/family education for more than 20 years. Having children of my own really helped me see how important the first years are in a child’s development and how choices parents make can direct their child’s behavior. I love helping parents understand ways to encourage their child’s growth and development.

I have three grown sons and one grand-dog, a black lab, and she and I are best buds. In my spare time I enjoy bicycling, reading and cooking.

Author Archive | Betty and Doniese

The Toddler Years: B for Biter

Every parent of a toddler and every adult who works with toddlers dreads hearing the word biter. Whether your child is biting, is being bitten, or you take care of a child who bites, you likely react very strongly to this behavior. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }
Teach your children about summer storm safety.

Safety First: Summer Storm Safety

When kids reach middle school, they are usually too old for traditional day care. Many are enrolled in summer programs, but a fair number of these kids are home alone during the summer months. Parents need to make sure their children know about basic safety rules like how to answer the door or phone, what to do if the smoke alarm goes off, etc. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }
Supervision is the key to water safety.

Safety First: Water Safety

Summer in the Midwest means it’s time for water fun! Whether you and your children plan to splash in the pool, go to the lake or water park, or just have some fun in the tub, thinking about water safety is very important. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }

Safety First: Child Abduction Part II

In our last safety blog, we talked about child abduction and some prevention skills parents can teach to keep their children safe. But what do we teach our children to do in the unlikely event that someone actually tries to abduct them or coerce them into an inappropriate sexual encounter? Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }

Hiring a Teenage Baby Sitter

It’s always great to have family or friends who will watch your child; but for many parents, the day will come when you have to hire a teenager to care for your child so you can run errands, go to a meeting or have that all-important date night. Read More »

Child Development, Events · McKennan · Comments { 0 }
It is important for parents to include stranger danger in the safety skills they teach their children.

Safety First: Child Abduction Part I

Amber Alerts, news reports about missing children, and posters with children’s faces seem to be a daily occurrence. The term “stranger danger” is often used in reference to child abductions. But statistics today tell us that most child abductions are carried out by a family member or a family acquaintance. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }