Classes offered in infants, toddler care

All it takes is a commitment of time. The rest is free.

In 45 hours, childcare providers, parents, grandparents or nursery workers can have a better understanding of the infants and toddlers in their care -- and a certificate that could equal a pay raise.

Through a grant from the Colorado Department of Education, childcare teacher Janet Martinez is able to offer residents infant and toddler care certifications for free.

The only investment is time, she said.

"It's a grant to improve the quality of care of infants and toddlers," Martinez said.

The class is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays at the School Administration Building. The first class was Tuesday, but Martinez urges any community member still interested to begin attending next week. Register by calling Martinez at 824-4529.

"The idea of the class is that it's not just for daycare providers," she said. "It's for parents, churches, grandparents -- anyone who spends time with infants and toddlers."

Taking a similar class could cost participants $300 to $600.

The class teaches about nutrition, development and culture -- how to care for children whose beliefs, traditions or home environments may be different from that of their caretaker.

"I thought it was a wonderful class," said Kris Kulp, a daycare provider who graduated from the class two years ago. "It taught a lot about different cultures and I really learned a lot about that. I think every home daycare person should have to take this class."

Kulp said she learned more from the infant and toddler care class than any other class she's taken, including the one in which she earned her daycare license.

"It's a long class, but it's well worth it," she said. "I learned how to understand the children and where they're coming from and how to use guidance instead of discipline."

This is the third year the class is being offered through the grant and 15 people have earned certificates so far.

"You learn how to be more responsive to infants and toddlers," Martinez said, "how to stimulate their growth and development."

The class doesn't license participants for daycare, but offers additional training for those who are, or want to be, licensed.

With this certificate, licensed daycare providers can accept additional children into their care and the class meets the licensing requirements for infant/toddler nursery supervisor training.

It also can earn attendees college credit if they sign up for the class through Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig.

Martinez urges all who are interested to sign up fast because she doesn't know how long the grant will last.

"We need at least 10 students to keep the grant," she said. "This is a great opportunity. I want as many people as will come."

According to Kulp, there is a big demand in Craig for infant care. Most providers take older children because they can legally have more in their care.

"A lot of home daycare providers don't take infants," she said. "It limits activities and time with other kids."

Martinez is a certified teacher for the Department of Education and a child care monitor for the United States Department of Agriculture.

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