April 14, 2016

Child care providers gather for yearly conference - By Michelle Libby

Water safety class
Donna Cobb has seen 24 years of child care conferences held in Windham. She’s worked most, if not all of them. Despite retiring from the business recently, she was organizing the event that took place last Saturday. 

Julia Trepanier, the program director for SACC has been working the conference for eight years. “It’s a very well-oiled machine. It’s a great opportunity for providers to interact with other providers and learn,” she said. 
The event was coordinated by the Windham and Raymond School Aged Child Care (SACC) program. The Windham Primary School program is being accredited soon, making all sites accredited. This event was a fundraiser for SACC, a 501(c)3. 

“We come here getting what we intended to get. It’s social and with the vendors, it’s informative, too,” said Jana Emerson, who was one of nine employees from Building Blocks Learning Center in South Portland. 

Providers came from all over the state from as far away as Bethel, Hallowell and Albany Township, to hear speakers Audrey O’Clair and keynote speaker Jack Agati speak on early childhood development and creating a value driven organization. 

O’Clair and Agati both held additional workshops, including The Goals of Misbehavior and ones on early literacy. Other workshops were accepting credit cards and understanding pretend play, along with many others that ran the gambit of topics. 

Over the years, providers have been asked to have more services and have seen a lot of changes.
“One of the biggest changes is technology. There’s resistance from education and parents on using it in the classroom,” said 41-year veteran Susan Novak. “Parents want to see us teach kids, but they are not seeing the core of the program. Developmental play is the children’s work.” 

“Most parents want their children to play and be a part of a social community,” said Sandy Bryant from Main Street Child Care Center in Cumberland. 

Their center is often in contact with the schools and the schools want kids to know how to sit down for circle time or morning meeting. The rest they can work on when the students get to school, said Novak.
“Parents expect everything, and never tell them they have naughty children,” said Cobb with a chuckle.
Providers in Maine need 12-hours of mandatory training in addition to CPR and first aid certifications, said Cobb. Those who work in child care centers need up to 30 hours of training. Any place that has a pool or water must take a water safety class. 

“There’s so much more available now,” said Cobb. Some can be done online, but they earned six hours for being at the conference.

Windham Primary School staffed a Scholastic Bookfair as a fundraiser for that school. Librarian Kim Allen and volunteer Elliot Jordan helped attendees find age appropriate books. 

https://www.estatesales.net/“Parents expect a safe environment to engage our kids,” said Sue Nadeau who has worked for SACC for three years. “They want a fun place for the kids to relax. They want a very different place from school.”
Laura Sullivan was second in command for the conference.  For more on child care in the area, visit  https://wccproviders.wordpress.com/ or http://windhamraymondsacc.com/

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