Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on May 7, 2001. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
New university program helps child-care providers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Training opportunities and internet access are coming to several unlicensed home child-care providers across Mississippi in a project offering educational support on how best to care for their young clients.
Through the Nurturing Homes Initiative, participating child-care providers for low-income children are being given a series of lessons on safety, health issues and developmentally-appropriate activities for children. Mississippi State University's Extension Service and Alcorn State University are working together to distribute these lessons to enrolled participants.
Mary Eddins is one of three project coordinators with Extension's Nurturing Homes Initiative. She said 41 unlicensed child-care providers are enrolled in the program, and more are being recruited.
"There are many people who keep children in their home, and we want to improve the quality of care that the children are receiving," Eddins said. "One of the reasons we're working with unlicensed providers is because it's often hard for them to get education because there is no one else available to care for the children while they're away. This is a way we can bring education to them."
To meet this need, Eddins and fellow project coordinator Angel Fason are developing a series of lessons on a wide variety of topics important to child-care providers.
Currently, one or two lessons are mailed out weekly, and consist of two to three pages of written material designed to take about 20 minutes each to complete. Participants read this information and are asked a few self-test questions. After successfully completing a lesson, they receive a developmentally appropriate toy to be used in the family home.
The project is using a national assessment tool to determine the needs of clients. The types of lessons used in the project are based on the indicators in the rating scale.
Each project coordinator is recruiting participants until they reach 30 each. Coordinators make in-home visits with the participants four to five times during the program and review material covered in the lessons. Organizers plan to issue certificates of participation to those who complete all the lessons.
Margaret Chapman, owner of Gator Gallery in Gautier, operates an unlicensed home child-care business for children ages 2 to 5. She heard about the Nurturing Homes Initiative from a friend who owns a licensed child-care facility in the area, and signed up as soon as the program was offered.
"The program encourages better care for home child-care providers," Chapman said. "It puts you in contact with others who offer home child-care, so if you have a problem or your technique for handling something is not working, you can contact someone else and learn from them."
Chapman said another benefit of the program is knowing who to refer someone to if she can't take in any more children, but someone wants her to keep theirs.
MSU is coordinating the program for unlicensed home child-care providers in Coahoma, Tallahatchie, Oktibbeha, Noxubee, Scott, Jasper, Marion, Jackson and Harrison counties. Alcorn State University is coordinating the program in Hinds, Claiborne, Lincoln and Walthall counties.
One part of the program still underway is giving participating family child-care providers internet access and an e-mail account through WebTV. This equipment and service will be provided at no charge to participants for the duration of the program. Coordinators offer a website of useful information for participants at msucares.com.
"The lessons that we mail out will be available on this website, along with links to other educational sites that we think are delivering good information," Eddins said. "We plan to add a listserv for the providers to ask questions and advice of project coordinators and one another."
In addition to supplying educational materials to improve the quality of care being given by unlicensed family child-care providers, coordinators hope to get participants more familiar with technology and how it can improve their lives.
The Nurturing Homes Initiative is funded through Sept. 30 by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Office for Children and Youth. If the program is continued, coordinators hope to enroll more people and continue providing lessons, expanding them to include a curriculum for children being kept at the family daycare home.
For more information, contact: Mary Eddins or Angel Fason, (662) 325-8083