MUSCATINE, Iowa–In all parts of Muscatine County, access to high quality childcare stands out as an important issue. “We have some great centers,” said Early Childhood Iowa Muscatine County Director Whitney Howell. However, due to high demand and staff turnover, “so many centers could have more staff and take more kids,” she observed.
To help eliminate this shortfall and provide more childcare options for area families, Early Childhood Iowa Muscatine County partnered with Childcare Resource & Referral to offer a program called Childcare Ready for free online.
Originally, Howell conceived of the series as a way to help potential childcare workers and daycare owners gain the tools they needed for a successful career through in person meetings. However, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted those plans, leading her to postpone the class until finding a different solution. With the assistance of Childcare Resource & Referral, the course has moved to a fully online Zoom option, where prospective childcare workers and operators can learn from a live teacher and interact with their classmates.
Designed to give participants all the training they need to work in this field, Childcare Ready brings together many different resources and bundles them together into a single training program. “There’s just so much involved that people get confused or discouraged, so we’ve put it all in one place,” explained Howell.
Each Monday evening in March, Childcare Ready will present on a different topic, including mandatory reporter training, the essentials of working in childcare, practical business advice, universal precautions, and CPR and first aid. Additionally, participants wanting to go into greater depth can participate in additional trainings each Saturday morning.
Through this new learning opportunity, Howell, who also works as the Align Impact Muscatine early childhood, facilitator, hopes to move the county toward the target of providing more quality childcare support for working families who could benefit from them. “Our goal in offering this is to find more individuals and get them on track to help our centers,” emphasized Howell. She also hopes the course will help people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and would like to explore a career in childcare take the first step towards a new job.
With Childcare Ready beginning on Mar. 1, Howell plans to make online registration available soon. She encourages anyone who would like to participate in the class to watch the Early Childhood Iowa Muscatine County Facebook page for the link, as she will post it there first.