United Way launches program to expand child care

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Photo courtesy of United Way of Denton County

United Way of Denton County, in conjunction with the Child Care Workgroup of the Denton County Workforce Success Leadership Team, announced Tuesday the creation of the Denton County Family Child Care Network, utilizing a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

As Denton County continues to reopen, the demand for reliable, flexible and cost-effective child care rises, according to a news release from UWDC. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 37% of child care providers in Texas remain closed. In neighboring Dallas and Tarrant counties, just 40% of child care providers are open and operating. With limited capacity and supplies, many child care providers will not reopen anytime soon.

“Numbers in Denton County are difficult to pinpoint due to the lack of an established Family Child Care Network,” said Alicia McElroy, Director of Education and Workforce Initiatives at United Way of Denton County. “Once this network is off the ground and running, we will not only be able to track the benefits of expanded child care resources for our community, we will be able to provide critical data for the county and state.”

The Denton County Family Child Care Network is a project of the Child Care Workgroup for the Denton County Workforce Success Leadership Team. The Child Care Workgroup is dedicated to increasing access to affordable, quality childcare across Denton County. This program will create a support system to assist individuals interested in starting or currently operating small businesses providing in-home, family child care (FCCs). With this program, Denton County will become one of the first Texas communities with a staffed Family Child Care Network. The program will assist the 50 FCCs in developing age-appropriate curriculum and quality learning environments with the goal of becoming licensed child care and/or Texas Rising Star facilities.

The 15-month program, running from May 2020 to August 2021, will provide in-depth professional development opportunities including monthly trainings and networking opportunities. These opportunities will assist individuals in becoming competitive in the child care field, assist in developing curriculum, ensuring childcare safety measures, and much more.

Trainings are scheduled to begin this July and in addition, the FCCN program will provide one-on-one mentoring and coaching from United Way of Denton County’s Family Child Care Coordinators. The coordinators will make regular home visits to each FCC provider focusing on assessments and program development in the form of individualized curriculum planning, model lessons, demonstrated practice, guided practice and feedback, and coaching based on each FCC providers goals. Coordinators will be available between trainings and home visits to check in with providers and provide ongoing support and feedback as providers progress on their professional development plans and goals.

The program will also provide some financial assistance to offset costs associated with pursuing licensing and/or TRS certification and other startup costs, such as age appropriate materials and supplies to help improve the quality of their program.

Virtual information sessions began last week with more set for June 12 at noon, June 16 at 5:30 p.m., and June 19 at noon. Spanish-language meetings will also be held on June 17 at noon and June 23 at 5:30 p.m. To register, go to www.UnitedWayDenton.org/FamilyChildCare.

About The Author

Mark Smith

Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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