Judi Whilden, owner and director of Sunrise Kids Preschool & Child Care, stands in her classroom Saturday afternoon. Whilden recently joined Janet Martinez as an instructor for the Expanding Quality in Infant and Toddler Care Initiative in Northwest Colorado.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Judi Whilden, owner and director of Sunrise Kids Preschool & Child Care, stands in her classroom Saturday afternoon. Whilden recently joined Janet Martinez as an instructor for the Expanding Quality in Infant and Toddler Care Initiative in Northwest Colorado.

Initiative coaches early childhood care providers



Janet Martinez

When it comes to caring for infants and toddlers, every detail matters, Craig resident Judi Whilden said.

Everything from the way a child is spoken to when having its diaper hanged to the spatial layout of a room when they learn how to crawl can be a part of a baby’s learning and development.

And although Whilden admits she didn’t have all the answers when she had her own children 20 years ago, her experience and recent training has given her the opportunity to pass on the importance of quality, responsive care to other early childhood care providers.

Whilden, who has owned and operated Sunrise Kids Preschool & Child Care for 16 years, is the newest certified instructor for the Expanding Quality in Infant and Toddler Care Initiative in Northwest Colorado.

EQIT, launched in 2000 by the Colorado Department of Education, is a professional development program for home care providers and child care centers who are responsible for children 3 years old and younger.

Whilden joins Janet Martinez, of Craig, who has been instructing the 48-hour program to local providers for eight years.

So far, 70 participants have gone through the program in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, and the class will be offered for credit through Colorado Northwestern Community College in the fall.

“I love working with caregivers, and I love this initiative,” Martinez said. “I really believe in it and believe in giving quality care. The education and support that it gives people in the field… they don’t get a lot of kudos for what they do. I don’t really think people understand the training that goes into home care.”

Whilden and Martinez are in the process of leading a class of nine providers through the program, many of whom work in a new early childhood care center in Meeker.

The training is free to providers who don’t take the course for college credit.

“It’s a fabulous initiative,” Whilden said about EQIT. “It’s fabulous because it introduces people to the idea that starting at zero — starting at birth — babies learn, they have feelings ,and they need to express themselves. It helps the adults learn how to read cues and improves quality care for our infants.”

In addition to 16 classroom sessions, Whilden and Martinez also coach their students on site, working with the care providers in their work setting and helping them apply EQIT concepts when interacting with infants and toddlers.

“What it offers is tools that people new to the field haven’t acquired or experienced yet,” Whilden said. “There is a lot of information, and it’s not a lot of what comes naturally. Zero to 3 is the biggest time for brain development. It’s really amazing how much they learn. But if you’re a care provider, even if you have a ratio of one (adult) to four (infants), that’s a lot to deal with. They don’t all express themselves in the same way.”

The EQIT curriculum exposes providers to concepts such as reflection, connecting with families and speech and literacy development.

Whilden said the state will so­­­­on make the program a requirement for all early childhood center directors, including those who don’t work with infants and toddlers, such as at Sunrise.

Martinez said when CDE launched the program, it was responding to a statewide crisis in early childhood care.

“They said we had to fix this quick,” Martinez said. “Because the quality of care was so poor. They wanted to improve it quickly.

“It is vitally important that we invest in the care of our young children. Quality is essential. By meeting the needs of children in the early years, we will prevent problems in adolescents.”

And care has improved, Martinez said.

She said licensers have told her they have seen a difference in the quality of early childhood care providers since the initiative has brought attention, funding and support to the field.

For Whilden, teaching adults is a new experience, but a fruitful and fulfilling one for her and the rest of the community.

“It basically teaches them how to give responsive care in a safe and healthy environment,” Whilden said. “And it expands my knowledge and allows me to give back to the community that has given me so much in the last 16 years. I know every one of my students right now can do it because they have the passion. They want it. And we’re giving them the tools.”


George Robertson 7 years, 1 month ago

Anitadunnce have you looked in the mirror lately? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!!


Frank Estey 7 years, 1 month ago


That’s just a mean, nasty, despicable, dunce like, commentary….she must be your ex-wife or ex-girlfriend.


daybyday 7 years, 1 month ago

It's perplexing how someone who is supposedly sick to death of nasty comments, spreading hatred, bullies and anonymous personal attacks cannot even see a a faint glimmer of the same in their own words.

My final post on this site is in regard to the initiative. I'm all for it and in support of those who both implement and participate in higher quality care for infants and children.


George Robertson 7 years, 1 month ago

"or make potentially slanderous or libelous comments when using this site and its features, or engage in ad hominem attacks on fellow commenters, people mentioned in stories, or any employee of craigdailypress.com or The World Company, we reserve the right (but assume no obligation) to remove any and/or all of your contributions."

Anitadunnce, the above came from the forum policy so your post Did violate the usage agreement and I applaud the CDP for removing your down right mean spirited post!


Frank Estey 7 years, 1 month ago


You are not a nice person, is there no shame within your soul???


oldgezzer 7 years, 1 month ago

wow, and she was telling me not to post comments, lol


Anitadunnce 7 years, 1 month ago

Reply to nimnod @12:29pm on 3/23: No, neither slander nor libel was the issue, either, any more than profanity or other inappropriate language was the issue.

Google "slander" and "libel" as I have in the past, and you will note that "truth is an absolute defense to a charge of slander or libel." Therefore, since everything that I attempted to post was the truth, there was no real issue of libel.

I do understand, however, that litigation is expensive. Even when a case has no basis, it becomes an expensive matter for the defendant to litigate. If the CDP had a fear of being sued over my comments, then that would be the reason that the CDP removed both of my comments, although neither of my comments violated the policy in any manner.

The removal probably was good business for the CDP, and I understand it. I certainly do not blame the paper for its good business decision. I think it is a real shame, however, that the folks at the paper had to feel afraid of retaliation at all.


George Robertson 7 years, 1 month ago

ok you managed to skirt the libel and slander part, but what about the "or engage in ad hominem attacks on fellow commenters" part?


Anitadunnce 7 years, 1 month ago

Reply to nimnod @5:17pm today:

No, nimnod, I did NOT "manage to skirt the libel and slander part", because of the simple fact that there was NO LIBEL at all. Everything I posted was true. If you wish to call it "skirting", that's okay, but I disagree with your characterization.

In addition, nimnod, the "engage in ad hominem attacks " section of the posting agreement does not apply to this situation at all. I have not "attacked" a fellow commenter on this thread at all.... not on any occasion whatsoever. In fact, interestingly, except for ONE comment on this thread, every other comment by my "fellow commenters" has been directed toward ME. That does seem ironic, doesn't it, in view of the provision that you cited? LOLOL Oh, well.

Remember that I was the FIRST POSTER on this thread. How, therefore, could I possibly have "attacked a fellow commenter"? NO one else had commented at that point.

If by "fellow commenter", you refer to one who is the subject of this article, then what is her screen name? :) :) Please tell. If you wish, just click onto my screen name, and send me a private email.

Even if that is what you meant, there was nothing "ad hominem" about my so-called "attack", I assure you, nimnod. My comments were all relevant to the topic of the article, and all of them were true. They were removed purely because the CDP has good fear to be afraid of retaliation. As I stated before, given the circumstances and the personalities involved, I must agree with the paper and believe that their decision was a very smart business decision.

Nimnod, just one more thing. Please re-read the thread on Nancy Sadvar's letter to the editor... read the ugly, merciless comments by several posters about Nancy's family.... personal attacks on her husband, sarcasm about her son (calling him "angelic"), NONE of which were related to that topic in any manner whatsoever. Agreed?

Then think about whether any of those comments were removed, whether Nancy whined to the paper about the so-called "abuse", whether ANYone threatened the paper with a libel suit relating to Nancy's thread. Nope, didn't occur.

I respect Nancy and her family, their maturity, their responsibility, and their professionalism even more now that I did before. The Sadvars are respected members of this community. At some point, I will contact Nancy personally and tell her so again over coffee or lunch. She already knows I think her son is a great kid, and I want to reiterate that fact now that Nancy has been so mercilessly beaten up by her "fellow commenters".


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.