Children, parents brought together |

Children, parents brought together

Infant, toddler classes offered for free

Amy Hamilton

Rodney Wiessner is a better dad because he puts in the time.

Last year, the father of five, enrolled in an infant and toddler class that didn’t cost his pocketbook a dime.

The experience however, was priceless.

“It brought me closer to my children,” the Craig man said. “It gives you another point of view on kids. Most people don’t realize that their kids are literally just little people.”

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.

In 45 hours, childcare providers, grandparents or others interested in the program can gain a better understanding of children in their care.

The class is offered Monday nights at the Bell Tower building at the Colorado Northwest Community College starting Sept. 15 through December.

In order to keep receiving the grant, classes need to be filled with at least eight to 10 students. Last year, 14 participants received certification and, at times, a total of 27 people showed up.

“People can drop in for a session or two,” Martinez said, inviting those who may want only want to sample the class. “Anyone’s welcome and I mean anyone. They don’t have to be doing daycare.”

In order to earn a certificate, which may equal a pay raise for childcare providers, students need to attend each class.

Students are required to pay a fee to earn college credits for the course. Class work to earn credits is little more intensive, Martinez said.

To continue to receive the grant dollars, the class needs at least eight to 10 students each year.

So far this year, about 13 individuals have signed up for the class in Craig and 12 have shown interest to take the class on the Meeker campus.

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

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

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

Recently, the class began integrating students into homes with licensed day care providers, increasing students’ exposure to the childcare field.

“It’s good opportunity if people want to get some good experience for free,” Martinez said in support of the training.

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

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or

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