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Katherine Weatherby is surrounded by her 2-year-old grandchildren (from left) Zirean Davis, G’Niereya Alston and Bryson Ward at her home in Sallis, Mississippi, on Aug. 20, 2015. (Photo by MSU Human Sciences/Amy Barefield)

Grandparents offer quality option to working parents

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Grandparents provide a loving, low-cost and flexible alternative to center-based child care for many families across Mississippi. The benefits to the parents, children and grandparents in these situations are significant for many reasons.

Nearly 11 million children under the age of 5 in the United States go to some type of child care for an average of 36 hours each week. Some children are in multiple child care settings because of their parents’ nontraditional working hours.

Kelly Carmody is a project director with the Early Years Network, a program based in the Mississippi State University Extension Service and funded by the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood Care and Development. The network provides grandparents, parents, children, early care teachers and directors with education programs and materials to improve the well-being of Mississippi’s children.

Carmody said she is constantly amazed at the lengths to which grandparents will go for the children in their care.

“Many family members across the state are working hard and significantly improving the level of care their grandchildren and the children and grandchildren of friends in their communities are receiving,” Carmody said.

For parents, having a family member willing and able to care for their children relieves the uncertainty sometimes associated with leaving them in a larger facility. Families may also be more flexible with hours and costs.

Children fortunate enough to stay with grandparents while parents are at work are in a familiar environment. This situation eases the transition and relieves the anxiety of being separated from parents.

For grandparents who offer time, wisdom, patience and homes to their grandchildren, the return on their investment makes it well worth any sacrifice.

Kimberly Montgomery, grandmother and provider in Clinton, said she feels blessed to pass along the gifts of time, love and service that her grandmother and mother gave to her.

“I get the blessing of passing on through my grandbabies. I am so thankful for the opportunity to watch them grow and learn,” Montgomery said. “There is no greater feeling of accomplishment than caring for my grands in my own home.”

Katherine Weatherby, grandmother and provider in Sallis, agreed that it is a blessing to be a part of her grandchildren’s daily upbringing. Weatherby began keeping her grandchildren as a way to help her daughters finish college.

In 2012, Weatherby and her two daughters, Denice Weatherby and Katie Jamison, each received a Child Development Associate Credential.

“When I heard about the CDA, I asked, ‘What do we have to do?’” Montgomery said. “If it will better me for the children, I’m going to do it.”

“We don’t babysit; we learn in here,” Denice Weatherby said, echoing her mother’s commitment to building a strong foundation for children in her care.

The Early Years Network, which has project directors across the state, is improving quality child care by providing resources, training, credentialing opportunities and technical assistance for in-home child care providers in Mississippi.

Often, grandparents start keeping their own grandchildren only to find that word gets out and they end up keeping other children, as well.

“I can’t describe how important nurturing these children is,” Weatherby said. “This community has been made better by children coming here.”

For more parenting tips, visit the Early Years Network Facebook page or http://earlyyearsnetwork.msucares.com.

Released: September 10, 2015
Photos for publication (click for high resolution image):
  • Katherine Weatherby is surrounded by her 2-year-old grandchildren (from left) Zirean Davis, G’Niereya Alston and Bryson Ward at her home in Sallis, Mississippi, on Aug. 20, 2015. (Photo by MSU Human Sciences/Amy Barefield)
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