Daycare providers polish up their skills

Three years ago the Family Resource Center in Bristol received a three-year grant to be put towards training sessions for local home daycare providers.
In Bristol alone, there are roughly 60 providers, said Linda Rich, director of the three Bristol Family Resource Centers. This grant from the Main Street Community Foundation’s Women and Girls’ Fund has helped many of them enhance their programs through training, while keeping their costs reasonable for parents.
“The Main Street Community Foundation understands that daycare providers are key partners for education and child development,” Rich said.
Last Tuesday was the second session in a two-part training program that has focused on assessment of the children to see how they are progressing, and how to support and develop them so they are prepared for school. The providers were learning how to create portfolios for their children, how to discuss progress with parents, and how to observe and evaluate how their children are developing. The providers also received various educational resources and tools for their centers to enhance their programs.
“It’s not just a daycare,” Rich said, adding the providers are licensed and implement educational lessons for their children, as well as attend weekly play groups at the Family Resource Centers.
When finding a home daycare for your child, several of the providers said to make sure they are licensed and that license is visible in the home. Parents can also search the daycare providers on the state’s government website to see if there are any “marks” against them.
Many of the providers at last week’s training have been in the business for nearly 20 years or more.
Mary Mathes has been a provider for 43 years and is based in Terryville, and said it is important for parents to find a daycare based on criteria other than just “dollars and cents.”
“Look for the professionalism and if they have the experience, how many children they have, their hours,” Mathes said, adding the training sessions she attended have been helpful to stay up-to-date on new techniques and ways to enhance her daycare business.
Betsy Armitage of Bristol has been a provider for 20 years, and said the training has also been helpful bringing in new providers and sharing ideas with each other on new and old lessons. She added the training had been helpful in providing information on how to observe the children to make sure they are “meeting the benchmarks to be school ready.”
Both Mathes and Armitage said having a daycare is like having an extension to their family, and they are seeing second and third generations come back, and first generations stay in touch.
“They aren’t just a number in a center, but part of our family,” Armitage added.
Sue Vivian was the trainer for this session and has an extensive background in providing daycare and trains professionals who are both at home and in centers.
Whether they are at home providers or in a center “they should all have the same expertise and be on the same page; all of these children will be going off to kindergarten,” Vivian said. She added she was showing the providers how to observe and document, give specific details to parents, and use that data to develop their instruction and education at their centers.
This year, the providers banded together to create an association called the Child Care Resources of Central Connecticut, Inc. President Karen Markure has been a provider for 14 years and is located in Bristol, and said the association has been able to allow for even more training, and offer programs on topics such as fire safety and more. Also, the association is a network for the providers who are able to support each other, go on field trips together, and interact along with their children.
Laurie Wojnarowski, a provider in Bristol, said the association also gives back to the community through holiday meals, gifts, and also participates in the upcoming annual Children’s Holiday Parade. She added the association is always looking for new members, and the $30 per year gives members access to workshops, discounts on training, networking with other providers, and more.
Whether you’re a parent looking for a provider or a provider looking to be a member, visit the Child Care Resources of Central Connecticut, Inc. website at www.centralctchildcare. com.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.