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Early Years Network celebrates care provider
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Early Years Network at Mississippi State University is celebrating Regina Hinton, owner of Little Pebbles Child Care in Hattiesburg, as the network’s first provider to earn an important professional credential.
Hinton is the first in-home provider enrolled in the Early Years Network scholarship program to complete the In-Home Child Development Associate credential.
The network is a system of support services approved by the MSU Extension Service and its partners that receives funding from the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Early Childhood Care and Development. It provides early care and education programs and materials for teachers, directors, children and families to improve the well-being of Mississippi’s children.
“Regina is an inspiration to other caregivers and child care advocates across the state,” said Adrienne Mercer, program director for the Early Years Network. “Her determination to increase her knowledge and the quality of the care she offers while working full time is what first impressed me about Regina.”
Mercer said in-home providers traditionally have not seen the immediate need to pursue this certification because they conduct smaller, less formal businesses.
“The directors are usually friends or relatives of the parents of the children they care for, and sometimes the expectations may seem more relaxed,” Mercer said.
However, Hinton saw how having the credential would benefit the children.
“I learned so many important things about sanitation, CPR and the developmental stages of children, just to name a few,” Hinton said. “It was an incentive program and something that I really felt I wanted to do, so I pursued it with all I had. I worked on classes before the kids came at 6 a.m., during naptime and before I went to bed. I had lots of support from family, so I pushed myself and I got it done.”
Hinton said knowing she is providing the highest quality care for children made the hard work worth it.
“I am not just babysitting; I am teaching these kids and watching them develop in every way,” she said. “I also feel that parents are more comfortable knowing that they are leaving their children with someone that is certified.”
Kelly Carmody, field supervisor for the Early Childhood Network, said Hinton is passionate and dedicated about her work with young children.
“She enrolled in the Child Development Associate on-line course and has worked diligently to complete all credential requirements,” Carmody said. “It is a joy to visit Regina’s place of business, because her enthusiasm for early-childhood education is inspiring. Regina is a model of quality in-home child care.”
Little Pebbles Child Care has a daily enrollment of five children from 2 to 4 years old, as well as one after-school child.
“In-home child care is important because I am able to give the children more attention, more one-on-one time and more comfortable interaction,” Hinton said. “I am grateful for the opportunity I have to impact these children, and I know I am giving them the very best I can.”