The five-year-old in Sama A.’s care at her home in Oakridge Neighborhood is from a household that cannot speak English. And yet, not only can he now speak English along with his native Kunama, he can also write his numbers, past 10 and beyond. The reason? His caregiver Sama is actively teaching the child while she provides childcare for him while his parents work.
This is the kind of positive outcome a new program aspires to nurture in the childcare providers at Oakridge Neighborhood. The new pilot program, Prepared 2 Care (P2C), is designed to increase the quality, safety and financial viability of home-based childcare operations which support women who provide and those who use these critical childcare services.
Oakridge Neighborhood is Iowa’s largest project-based Section 8 housing complex, providing homes for nearly 1,000 residents. In addition to secure, stable housing, residents and other community members have access to supportive programs and essential services to help them on their quest to become economically self-sufficient. With a resident population that is 72 percent refugees and immigrants and 52 percent children with an average household income of $17,389, the need is great.
Prepared to Care (P2C) supports in-home childcare businesses being operated out of Oakridge Neighborhood apartment homes. P2C focuses on creating the conditions needed to maintain quality and safe home-based childcare and a viable, profitable businesses for the provider. P2P supports caregivers with individualized services, including:
- In-home, on-site early childhood coaching and consultation
- Access to learning resources and materials
- Support for creating safe environments which comply with local and state regulations and general safety protocols
- Assistance with risk mitigation and access to insurance resources
- Business management and financial reporting support
P2P has two long-time educators to serve as dedicated early childhood coaches for program. The team has created a robust curriculum based on best practices in the field and use the Family Child Care Environment Rating (FCCER) to guide their work.
Participants were recruited by going door-to-door and through phone calls in order to establish relationships with the caregivers. There are currently 10 caregivers enrolled in the program.
Monthly group meetings began in January and convene on-site at Oakridge with program participants. Topics include curriculum ideas, safety trainings, business basics, and insurance coverage. In April, one-on-one in-home observations of caregivers began, providing coordinators a more in-depth picture of a caregivers’ level of care and expertise, as well as provide the caregiver tailored, personalized instruction. The timing is key, allowing coordinators the opportunity to also provide critical instruction on best practices to safely enjoy outdoor activities with the children in their care before the summer months.
The lack of English proficiency among the childcare providers has posed an early challenge. Translators are enlisted as needed to assist. Program coordinators focus on developing the caregivers’ comprehension by working with visuals and small manipulatives which require less verbal explanation.
Program coordinators are now working with participants to establish benchmarks for future assessments, in order to ensure providers are providing a safe, quality experience for the families that utilize their services.
Oakridge Neighborhood is so appreciative of the Iowa Women’s Foundation for supporting Prepared To Care!