The topic of child care has been continually at the forefront of conversation throughout this past year. Although child care has always found its way to the state capitol, it is due to COVID-19’s glaring economic, educational and community impact that our state Legislators are tuning in more than ever.
Here at Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R), we understand that a generic email or social media post won’t provide our local Legislators with in-depth information about the current child care climate that they will need to properly do their job as an elected official. CCR&R knows Iowa Legislators need to hear, see and be able to personally communicate with their local child care providers in order to have the best picture of what is really happening in their part of the state and the child care community as a whole.
Although not always a simple task, CCR&R has found that one way in which to facilitate these critical conversations is by hosting Legislative events. Kept virtual, due to the pandemic, these meetings have brought together Iowa's Legislators, CCR&R staff, child care providers and child care partners. The goal for these conversations is simple: facilitate and have open dialog about local child care. This is done through presented information from CCR&R as well as personal provider testimony that allows for a better understanding of the current data, successes and barriers child care providers are facing. Legislators also see how their work at the capitol has an impact on their local child care providers and the families they serve.
CCR&R is very thankful and appreciative to those Legislators who have attended these events and those child care providers who have participated by speaking their truths about day-to-day small business operations and the reality they face as Iowa child care providers – especially during a pandemic. The questions and conversation exchanges between the attendees have led to meaningful understanding and insight which continues CCR&R’s mission and vision: to provide resources, education and advocacy to support quality child care. CCR&R is committed to ensuring that Iowa’s vision is met: Every child beginning at birth will be healthy and successful.
Stay tuned for Legislative events happening in your area. Together we will work toward securing more quality child care options in Iowa!
Due to the pandemic, CCR&R has made some quick adjustments in how we provide training for child care providers. The training team offers virtual webinars, workshops and foundational training to meet professional development needs. Some of the training topics offered include mindfulness, mental health, social-emotional development, language and literacy, business practices and child development areas. We are proud of our collaborative efforts to provide new and updated training, as well as many of our tried-and-true training classes!
One updated curriculum rolled out in January – ChildNet 3.0. This class is a hybrid training blended to include a live virtual session and self-study activities. The live session meets weekly and provides an overview of the session content. The self-study activities include discussion to create a sense of community and networking, along with assignments, videos and quiz questions. This spring, we have 75 Child Development Home providers participating from across the state.
“From a consultant point of view, there was definitely a learning curve to ChildNet 3.0. I think it has been nice though, it requires me to be intentional about reaching out to participants individually on a regular basis, which has been a really positive outcome, in my opinion. The initial reaction from my providers was that they were a bit overwhelmed at first, however, now that they are in the middle of the training and have the technology figured out, they are loving the flexibility of the one-hour weekly class with homework assignments to do in their own time,” states Paige Duncan, Child Care Consultant.
Another new curriculum being offered is the All Our Kin Virtual Business Series. This class covers four key aspects of running a family child care business including marketing, contracts, time-space percentage and recordkeeping. We are excited to share that 31 child care providers have registered to attend the training this Spring.
A huge “thank you” goes out to the CCR&R training team for being so quick in adjusting processes for professional development opportunities. We are excited to share that CCR&R has offered 773 hours of online training (April 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021) during the pandemic. As you can see, this last year has been an exciting time for CCR&R as we have made our way into the virtual world for professional development.
Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) has continued to offer the Child Care Ready program statewide. This series of sessions will help individuals seeking a career in early childhood education access the required training and supports needed to become a registered child care provider or start a career as a child care center staff member.
Potential providers will receive assistance in completing the required training, finalizing the registration application and continued support from CCR&R and their local Child Care Consultants. Courtesy of a grant through the Iowa Women’s Foundation, CCR&R hosted 16 training sessions in all five regions across the state. Of the 158 participants who registered, over 100 have completed the training and are working towards and/or have achieved registration. Twelve participants have gone on to work in a child care center. Once the final applications are approved from these sessions, we hope to see anywhere from 200-350 new slots available for children across Iowa.
We have learned that we need a community-wide effort to continue to make this recruitment program successful! The Iowa Women’s Foundation played an essential role in eliminating many of the barriers that are related to starting a child care business. The grant funds were used to support Child Care Ready participants by providing stipends, incentives (health and safety materials, toys, etc.) and participant supports (child care, transportation, interpretation, technical assistance, etc.) throughout their journey to become a provider.
In the future, CCR&R regions will utilize community partners, including IowaWORKS and Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) to organize how we can provide some of these similar supports that we know are barriers to the recruitment and retention of early childhood educators.
Is your community looking for a possible solution to address the child care crisis? Hosting Child Care Ready in your area is a great recruitment strategy and will help to increase the availability of quality child care. Contact a Community Development Specialist today to learn more!
All five CCR&R regions are moving forward with the implementation of Child Care Ready. This program has helped us learn that completing the application to become a registered Child Development Home provider or accessing support to become a child care center staff member is not a simple process; the role of CCR&R staff is valuable. A participant who completed a Child Care Ready series in Region 4 stated, “Thank you all so much for your help in this process! You all have made it go quickly and efficiently!”
The statewide team works together to brainstorm new ideas on how to advertise and educate new groups of individuals who may be a good fit to provide early childhood care. These groups include high school students, community college students, new mothers or individuals staying home with their own children. We look forward to continuing to recruit and provide support to retain early childhood professionals!
May 7 is nationally recognized as Provider Appreciation Day. Keep an eye on your email or stay tuned to CCR&R's social media as we will be announcing details on our celebration of Iowa's child care workforce! #PAD21
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