A new educational option is now available to child care providers in the greater Milwaukee area who want to move from a 2-star to 3-star rating in YoungStar – Wisconsin’s child care quality rating and improvement system.
With funding from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, select early education courses are being offered free of charge at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
“Child care is so much more than babysitting, and the YoungStar requirements reflect this,” said Dr. Wilma L. Bonaparte, Interim Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Milwaukee Area Technical College. “Brain research continues to show how young children learn best, and what they must do in their first five years to develop fully as adults,” she added.
The free courses cover essentials of child development and family relationships. One course offers the opportunity for seasoned child care providers to convert their on-the-job experience to academic credit. Over 100 providers from Milwaukee are enrolled in the courses, which are offered in Hmong, English and Spanish.
“Many child care providers want to advance their quality rating. Yet going to school when you work 12-hour days and earn just above minimum wage is daunting,” says Ruth Schmidt, Executive Director of Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA). “The combination of flexible scheduling and educational support services is proving successful,” she said.
Staff from WECA are at the class sites, offering students educational counseling and professional development support. WECA staff answer questions about learning options beyond the initial class including certificate programs, degree programs and credit-bearing workshops. They can then match providers to financial resources that may be available for their education. The counseling service is funded through the YoungStar program and is available to all child care providers in Wisconsin.
“The courses are a first step in skill development that benefits the providers and the young children in their care,” said Ms. Schmidt. “Through YoungStar, Wisconsin is investing in child care quality and providers are stepping up to the challenge,” she added.