Infant, toddler care focus of class | CraigDailyPress.com
Mikaela Rierson

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Infant, toddler care focus of class

Training offers chance to become licensed child care providers

Two Craig women have responded to a need in Moffat County to improve infant and toddler care.

Janet Martinez and Michelle Merrill, both mothers, will be co-teaching a free class on Infant and Toddler Training this month. The course is made possible through a grant from the Colorado Department of Education. The class will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on seven consecutive Saturdays beginning Jan. 13 at the Moffat County School District School Administration Building, 775 Yampa Ave.

According to recent statistics, Moffat County faces a potential day care crisis. In July, six infant and toddler care centers closed, leaving working mothers with few options.

“The biggest need in day care is for infants and toddlers,” said Martinez, who has 14 years experience in licensed day care. “We’re losing day care providers here. We applied to the state to make this class available to the community to help offset that loss and to improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.”

Infant and toddler care is harder to find because it’s very staff-intensive, Martinez explained. More caregivers are required and the costs are distributed over fewer children. Under state law, providers must have at least one caregiver for every five babies, compared with a 1-to-18 ratio for 4-year-olds, and even more lenient standards for older children.

“There are more people interested in preschool teaching, and infants and toddlers are not getting a lot of attention,” Merrill said.

Because the training is approved by the state, participants who take the full 45-hour course will gain the needed certification to become home caregivers for infants and toddlers.

“There are a lot of home day cares and right now, under state law, those caregivers can take one to two children under the age of two into their home, Merrill said. “This class will qualify them to take three or four children under their care. The younger the child, the lower the adult-to-child ratio.”

Although much is understood about individual infant development, and both research and experience point to the importance of a child’s first three years, caregivers need to know how to provide the optimal specialized care for infants and toddlers in groups.

“The class is offered for anyone who is interested in working with infants and toddlers in any capacity parents, teachers, day care providers, social workers, educators, therapists, early interventionists, child care consultants, or nurses,” Martinez said.

The class will cover brain development, the three temperaments of children flexible, fearful and feisty and how to deal with them, interaction with infants and toddlers, how to set up an environment for children newborn through two years, nutrition, building relationships with families and care givers and care of the spirit.

“It would be really exciting if we could have a center in Craig to take care of infants and toddlers,” Merrill said. “Maybe there are some women who might take this class and be interested in starting a center.”

Free child care will be offered during the class.

For information or to enroll, call Martinez at 824-4529 or Merrill at 826-2930.