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Resource centers help child-care providers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Greater access to educational and resource materials is coming to Northeast Mississippi child-care workers, teachers and parents.
Mississippi State University's Extension Service and Early Childhood Institute are receiving funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission to establish a Northeast Mississippi Childcare Resource and Referral system.
The pilot project is a partnership with Northeast Community College, Itawamba Community College and East Mississippi Community College. Sites on ICC's Tupelo campus, EMCC's Mayhew campus and the Northeast campus in Booneville will house child-care resources and offer workshops for issues related to preschool children.
"These sites will provide educational materials and resources to families, Head Start teachers and child-care workers," said Louise Davis, professor of child and family development for MSU's Extension Service. "They will offer convenient and educational opportunities for people in this area with special interests in early childhood issues."
Davis said the project will address the training needs of about 7,500 people employed in licensed child-care centers and family child-care homes in 24 counties in Northeast Mississippi. These programs, located in Appalachian Regional Commission counties, serve more than 13,000 children from birth to 5 years of age.
"This partnership between the community colleges, MSU's Extension Service and MSU's Early Childhood Institute is a significant opportunity to enhance early childhood education for the communities in Northeast Mississippi," Davis said. "Together, we can provide greater access to materials and information to benefit children."
The Extension Service area agents, site coordinators and technicians at each site will conduct workshops for parents and child-care workers; they also will be able to go to child-care centers in the area to address needs on the spot.
"The site coordinators overseeing the resource and referral sites have experience operating child-care centers and some have graduated from the community colleges with degrees in child development technology," Davis said. "They can answer questions from personal experience and from educational knowledge."
Carol Bishop, child development technology instructor at ICC, described the grant as a "wonderful asset" for her community college because it will help reinforce early child development programs on both the Tupelo and Fulton campuses. The site will be located in a portion of the campus police building on the Tupelo campus.
"We will be providing more than just classroom education. Students will have a place to go for new ideas and knowledge about child-care centers in the community," Bishop said. "The sites will give students the opportunity to interact with people who come in, take part in workshops and use the centers themselves for a variety of purposes."
The resource and referral site at NMCC will be located on the second floor of the Waller Building.
Sandra Ford, child development technology instructor at NMCC, said she anticipates her students using the resources as well as providing more items for the public from educational materials developed in classes.
"I'm looking forward to this resource site helping the people in the community, not only the child-care providers, but also the parents," Ford said. "Most places with resource materials are only open from 8 until 5, but this one is going to be open at night and on some weekends."
Paul Miller, vice president for the Golden Triangle campus of EMCC, said he looks forward to supporting the training needs of existing child-care centers and parents in the area.
"I also hope it will help establish a child development program at EMCC, which will complement our existing early childhood education program. Our involvement may lead to expanding our facilities as well as our programs," Miller said.
As parents and child-care professionals come to the campus for resource materials, Miller said he hopes they will become comfortable in the educational setting and consider furthering their education.
Laurie Todd, director of state initiatives for MSU's Early Childhood Institute, said the project will help parents by supplying valuable information on child-care choices and provide tips for selecting child-care providers in Northeast Mississippi.
"This project also will help businesses and enhance economic development by supporting high-quality child care for families in Mississippi," Todd said.