Author Archives: Cheryl Tyler

How Child Care Answers Helps the Community

by Cheryl Tyler, Outreach Coordinator

At Child Care Answers, you may know us as the go-to resource for families and child care providers. Did you know we also offer services to the community?

BUILDING BLOCKS FIRST

When we work with the community, we start with the basics.  Our team educates members of our community on the importance of early childhood education. We explain the importance of brain development, quality social-emotional interactions, and preparing children for the future. We also work with Human Resource departments to assist their employees with finding quality child care.

FORMING PARTNERSHIPS

Our work includes participation in several coalitions, committees, and service organizations throughout the six counties we serve. Personally, I am part of the following groups, just to name a few:

  • Early learning coalitions in Bartholomew and Johnson counties
  • The Brown County Community Network
  • Systems of Care

Other members of Child Care Answers also attend meetings with organizations such as:

  • Easter Seals
  • Prevent Child Abuse Marion County
  • The Indiana Afterschool Network
  • The State Breastfeeding Coalition

These groups are just a sampling of the groups of which Child Care Answers staff are a part. At these meetings, we share information and updates about Child Care Answers.  For those attending these meetings, or the clients that our social service partners may have on their caseload, we can answer questions about our services.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Another great aspect of our work with the community revolves around community fairs and events. At such events, we staff an information table with information on Paths to QUALITY, On My Way Pre-K, CDA, and CACFP. Depending on the audience for the event,  we stock our booths with any other information that meets the need. We also offer to do onsite referrals for any families seeking child care. Each of these types of events allow us to educate the community about quality early care and education, as well as assisting families in making informed decisions about the type of care that best fits their needs.

We are able to network with the other vendors at each event. This networking allows us to form collaborations and connections with community members who may not be aware of our services or how we can assist their clients. The exposure we receive at such events is critical in continuing to educate the public on the importance of early childhood education.

Hooray for Pre-K and Bartholomew County!

by Cheryl Tyler, Outreach Coordinator

Congratulations to Bartholomew County on becoming one of the newest On My Way Pre-K counties added to the program!  Governor Holcomb announced the addition of Bartholomew along with 14 other counties last month.

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

The Bartholomew County Early Learning Coalition worked for years in hopes that pre-K would be coming to the Columbus area.  They logged many hours of advocacy, phone calls, emails, and conversations.  It looks like those efforts have finally paid off!  In addition to the Coalition, many other organizations have also been championing this cause in a variety of ways.  Many hosted informational meetings,  spoke to their local representatives, and reached out to parents and professionals throughout the county. Thanks to the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Bartholomew County Schools,  Bartholomew County Early Childhood professionals, and many others for their hard work as well.

CHILD CARE ANSWERS’ SMALL ROLE IN THE BIG PRE-K JOB

Crystal Givens, our Director of Programs, and I contribute as members on the Early Learning Coalition. We provide data and information to help the Coalition access the county needs, as well as what the county has to offer.

I also took part in an phone outreach initiative with other Coalition members.  We called each child care provider in the county, engaging them on their views about becoming an On My Way Pre-K county and provider.  I’m happy to report that nearly all of the providers I phoned were thrilled about this opportunity for Bartholomew County.

As Outreach Coordinator, I have also spoken with many area businesses about the potential for On My Way Pre-K in their county.  At first, the conversations focused on the what and why of early childhood experiences.  There is a need for state-funded pre-K, and early childhood education matters to our communities.  After the Coalition and its partners completed much of its work, the questions began to center around when, where, and why not Bartholomew County?  They were right!  Why not Bartholomew County?

The pre-K future looks very bright for our friends in the Columbus area.  Child Care Answers will continue to support their needs and the professional development of their Early Childhood educators.  I am very eager to see On My Way Pre-K up-and-running in Bartholomew County.

How Child Care Answers Helps Families

by Cheryl Tyler, Child Care Answers Outreach Coordinator

At Child Care Answers, we wear many hats. Our coaches and training specialists provide top-notch support to help Central Indiana child care providers improve the quality of their programs. As Child Care Answers’ Outreach Coordinator, I lead a team that connects directly with the community – educating and consulting at fairs, committees, and coalition meetings. We also speak to businesses about how to best support their employees with child care options and challenges.

I talk with provider and community members every day, but the stories that stick with me the most have been when I was supporting parents directly. When I first started with Child Care Answers, I served as a Referral Specialist, helping parents with their search for child care. I spent 8-9 hours a day on the phone, talking to parents so I could compile lists to give them that detailed child care providers meeting their needs. Six years later, one of my first calls still sticks out in my mind. It was late in the afternoon of a particularly trying day.

My phone rang, and I took a deep breath and answered. “Thank you for calling Child Care Answers, your child care resource and referral. This is Cheryl. How can I help you?” The voice on the other end took a big deep breath, sighed, and started to tell me his story. He was a single dad who had a four-year-old daughter. She had been staying with Grandma (the caller’s mother) since she was born. He went on tell me that Grandma had just suffered a stroke and he needed someone to “watch” his daughter ASAP. As I listened, I could hear the fear in his voice. I asked him to give me a few minutes and I would try to ease his fears. I explained the different types of care available, what to look for, staff/child ratios, and the Paths to QUALITY program. As I gathered their information, I was able to find a list of licensed centers on Paths to QUALITY (per his request). He thanked me, asked my name again, and started to cry. He told me that, before he called, he felt so alone and scared of what might happen to his daughter. At the end of the call, he thanked me several times for helping and caring.

Several days later, I came into the office and had a voicemail. It was from this dad, and he wanted to tell me he found a Paths to QUALITY Level 4 center that had space and was very understanding of his situation. He thanked me again and said he was going to make sure all of his friends knew about Child Care Answers and how we help people. When people ask me what Child Care Answers does, or why I love what I do, this story always comes to mind.

If you are a family member, please rely on us at Child Care Answers.

We provide the following services to family members:

  • Free individualized referrals to Family Child Care Homes, Centers, Ministries, Pre-schools, Pre-K programs, Before-/After-school care, and Summer programs
  • Enhanced services for families with children who have special needs, infants and needs, and military families
  • Information on Indiana laws and regulations relating to child care
  • Education on how to choose a quality child care and early education program, as well as types of financial assistance that may be available

If you have any additional questions or needs, please give our office a call at (317) 636-5727, or feel free to email me at cherylt@childcareanswers.com.

Cover image by Flickr user SalCreative Commons license.