Child care involves community
A growing number of families need child care provided by someone other than a parent. Well-known reasons for the need are that more children are being raised by one working parent, or both parents must work to support the family. Research indicates that parents, confident in the knowledge that their child’s physical and developmental needs are being met during the day, are happier and more productive workers.
Quality care that helps build resilience, confidence, social skills and the ability to become a life-long learner benefits the children, the parents and the community. Quality care may not look the same to all because children differ, families’ needs differ, and community and cultural styles differ. However, there are some basic indicators of quality: The number of children cared for by one individual, the responsiveness of the caregiver, parental involvement, and trained and consistent caregivers.
The primary responsibilities of Sierra Nevada Children’s Services to the local communities in both Nevada and Sierra counties include child care and child development services. We carry out those responsibilities in several ways. We maintain a database of licensed providers and we inform parents on what to look for in quality child care. Parents may call us to find care that is appropriate for their children and meets the needs of the whole family. We assist those parents who are eligible by state guidelines to enroll in payment programs that pay the provider for the child care while parents work or attend school.
People who want to be part of the child care industry may call us to learn what it takes to become a child care provider. Sierra Nevada Children’s Services provides support for developing new child care providers. In addition to the recent forum, orientations for new providers, coordinated by state Community Care Licensing, are held here. Our staff, while not licensing experts, are conversant in the regulatory codes. Another forum with state licensing is set for May 19. Over 400 people are employed as early childhood educators at the 36 centers and 107 family child care homes in Nevada County.
Along with our local partners, the First 5’s in Nevada and Sierra counties and Sierra College, we make training available and help to pay for training for these early childhood educators who care for the county’s children. The required Health and Safety training can be reimbursed with a simple application. Other professional development may also be reimbursed with funds from the state. An indicator of quality is ongoing specific child care training. UC Davis instructors are here throughout the year as part of our Child Development Symposium. We offer a tax workshop to providers every January and the Business of Child Care workshop will be back this summer.
The library here at 256 Buena Vista Street in Grass Valley is available free to the community. We have books for children and adults as well as children’s toys and games. A staff member visits child care sites to read books and drop off up to 30 children’s books on a rotating basis.
Our Family Resource Center is developing and will soon be offering the use of computers with Internet access to the community along with other learning and fun opportunities. A group of active parents will design the center and develop programs. Nevada County and First 5 collaborated with us on expanding our family resources.
We provide a Family Night twice each month to bring neighbors together for a nutritious meal and to learn and share parenting ideas. In addition, we participate in the Latino night held at Hennessy School. During the school year, we hold a homework club and participate with an after-school program with physical exercise activities and healthy snacks.
Dental care is available at our clinic on South Auburn, although the waiting list is long. We collaborate with local groups to offer this much-needed dental service for kids with state coverage or without insurance. The local dental community has been generous with time and resources to make this a successful community operation.
Almost 30 years ago, the community gathered and formed the nucleus of what is now Sierra Nevada Children’s Services. The staff and Board of Directors, who are committed to supporting the needs of families and caregivers, invites you to call or stop by and find out who we are now, what we do, and help us as we evolve into the future.
Bonnie Taylor is the Interim Executive Director for Sierra Nevada Children’s Services and lives in Grass Valley
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