Childcare Referral Specialist Helps Dad Find Child Care and More
Sometimes a childcare referral is more than a referral. Teresa Castro, Resource and Referral Specialist, received one of those calls on July 19, 2016. A father called in who was looking for care for his 3-year-old daughter.
Teresa asked him all the questions for a customized referral to meet his family’s needs such as times care was needed, locations, type of care and more. After she was finished and almost ready to prepare the customized referral, she asked him one more question.
“I asked him what other resources I could help him with,” says Teresa. “That’s when he broke down and shared more of his story.” The father recently was awarded sole custody after Child Protective Services took the children away from his ex-girlfriend. The preschooler also had a newborn sister who at 2 ½ weeks old was too young to be in childcare and would be watched by a relative who couldn’t watch both children.
The father came down to Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. to pick up his referral and get more resources. “When he got here the client was scared and said he was unsure what to do. He felt lost,” says Teresa. “I told him it will be ok. Just take one step at a time.”
Teresa offered him an enhanced referral to make sure the programs had availability for the non-traditional hours he was looking for. She provided diapers, baby wipes which were needed and two books to for him to read to his daughters. Teresa provided information about the agency’s Parents as Teachers Home Visiting Program, Parenting Classes and Play Groups. She also made sure he had the numbers for community resources such as WIC, Childcare Assistance and 2-1-1.
“He just started crying and I told him he wasn’t alone,” says Teresa. Before he left he gave Teresa a hug, a kiss on the cheek and said, “Thank you.”
“He says he now feels a lot better than before,” says Teresa. “I told him we are here if he needs us, just call.”
Many NE WI Child Care Programs Have Waiting Lists for Infant Care
Soon-to-be parents have a lot of important decisions to make. From car seats to strollers, there are lots of questions to ask but one question shouldn’t wait until the last minute. Local resource center, Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W., urges parents to start their childcare search early.
“We have heard from area parents and local child care providers that some programs have no openings for infant care for several months,” says Paula Breese, Executive Director of Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. “There are many factors that go into finding a child care program that fits a family’s needs and if families wait their options are fewer.”
Nikki Matschullat, Center Director at Step Ahead Child Care, says they don’t advertise but there has been so much growth and lots of people moving into North Howard that they have no available infant slots until May 2017. “We get lots of calls and e-mails from parents who are looking,” says Matshullat. “For the past 5 years or so, we’ve been running at capacity and having wait lists.”
In Wisconsin, the maximum ratio of infants to a provider is 4 to 1, which leads to higher costs. Parents who have limited child care choices, because of where they live or need for nontraditional hours, might be further limited when considering cost and quality.
Parents should consider many factors when choosing a child care program including location, staff qualifications, hours, activities, group size and cost but when there is diminished availabilit it limits a parent’s opportunity to make a quality choice.
Jill Dauphinais, Center Director at Big Apple Preschool and Child Care Center, says to start looking as soon as possible. Their infant room has been full for about the past year and a half and has a wait list until January 2017. “I have had parents on my waiting list since they were 2 months along,” she says.
Parents who are looking can get a customized referral for child care from Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. to help them find a regulated program (both group centers or family programs) that meets their needs. Parents are asked a variety of questions to help them narrow down their search to a program that has qualities they are looking for. Parents will receive information on the Youngstar Quality Rating System and on questions to ask when choosing a child care provider to help make this important decision easier. Parents can call 920-432-8899 for a referral or use the online database.
“9 months seems like such a long time but there is a lot to do to find a quality program so start early,” says Paula Breese. “Parents should ask a lot of questions and visit different centers. You don’t want to do all the work to find a program that feels comfortable and meets your needs only to be turned away because the program is full.”
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