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Training improves in-home child care
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's in-home child-care businesses can take part in training to advance them to the next level in quality child care and in business techniques.
Mississippi State University's Extension Service offers the Nurturing Homes Initiative for home child-care providers. The Mississippi Department of Human Services' Office for Children and Youth funds the project, which is entering its second year in Mississippi.
"All children in child-care establishments deserve an environment that is nurturing and educationally supportive. We believe the Nurturing Homes Initiative supports in-home child-care environments and assists providers by bringing the training to them," said Angel Fason, NHI project director.
Fason said in the first year, the project enrolled 90 providers in 16 counties, including four served by the Alcorn State University Cooperative Extension Service. Participants ranged from reputable care establishments with many years of experience to newer providers just entering the business. This year, the project will be available to every county in Mississippi through the MSU Extension Service for up to 60 more child-care providers.
In 2001, Fason, project coordinator Mary Eddins and the Extension home economists in participating counties used an assessment tool based on national norms to provide supportive educational training and materials. Participants received home-learning packets with simple lesson plans including developmentally appropriate teaching methods on various topics.
"Lessons covered topics to improve the children's environment, such as health and safety, nutrition, language development, literacy establishment and various learning activities," Fason said. "From a business standpoint, we addressed issues such as money management and administration."
First-year participants received additional technical assistance and the hardware for web-TV training in their homes. Some lessons are web-based, and additional support is available through the Internet.
Patricia Butler, owner of Patricia's Home Care in Pascagoula, worked 16 years in a larger day-care establishment before opening her business in her home in 1998. She said even though her business is located in her home, she wants it to be run as professionally as larger facilities.
"I am not a babysitter. I want to give the children what they need for a jump start on life and school," Butler said. "It's good (for the provider) to know the basics, but as time goes on, we have to be ready to meet new challenges."
In the first year, Butler learned about issues related to language development, including techniques to build vocabularies and enhance letter recognition. She also learned how to help children who have learning disabilities. Access to web-TV also has enabled her to find information on cultural events and to find activities to reinforce lessons.
"The program emphasized the importance of repetition and reinforcing lessons in different ways," Butler said. "You don't have to rush out and buy things. Home items can be recycled in arts and crafts activities and for educational purposes.
"It's just like being a doctor. Most of the training is on the job, but you have to keep up; what used to work, may not work as well anymore," Butler said. "My aim is to get better at what I do, and I know it works because of the positive feedback from parents."
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with MSU's Extension Service, said last year's pre- and post-assessment scores revealed significant improvement in the quality of child care being provided at the participating child-care businesses. The original participants from the first year will continue to receive support through the program in 2002.
Davis said with funding for a second year, two additional coordinators have been hired to help with the statewide training. Providers can sign up for the Nurturing Homes Initiative through local county Extension offices.
For more information, contact: Angel Fason, (662) 325-3083