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KidSquad in the Community
Published Tuesday, November 5, 2013
You would never guess the magical world of learning and fun that lies behind the front door of a well-maintained white frame house in a quiet north Omaha neighborhood. At Purposely Created Childcare & Learning Center, LLC, everyone is learning—teachers and toddlers alike.
Sisters Carliss Miller and Shelina Williams opened Purposely Created a year ago, taking over the entire first floor of Williams’ home. Determined to make their child care a success, Shelina and Carliss were eager to learn more about best practices in early childhood education and approached Child Saving Institute’s KidSquad.
KidSquad is a program dedicated to helping young children develop social and emotional skills so they can decrease challenging behaviors and learn to get along well with others and manage their emotions in healthy ways.
KidSquad also offers customized education consultation to support community child care programs and home-based daycares so all children can be exposed to quality early childhood education. The program is free to eligible licensed child care homes and centers that accept Title XX.
The day we visited Purposely Created, KidSquad Early Childhood Specialist Ingrid Thomsen was on the floor of the bright and cheery front room surrounded by six little learners holding baby dolls. Ingrid was guiding the multi-age group through “Baby Doll Circle Time,” a lesson plan that teaches young children about empathy, emotions, and caring for one another.
Shelina explained that before KidSquad, she and Carliss had relied solely on their own experiences raising children to run their center. “KidSquad has allowed us to perfect our early childhood program and really work at creating a great learning environment,” she says proudly.
With the help of a child care environment rating scale, the sisters learned ways to improve the program’s physical environment, basic care of children, curriculum, interactions, schedule and program structure, and how to address parent and staff needs. Once the assessment was completed they applied for and received the first of two $500 mini grants to make changes to the physical environment—changes that included lowered tables and chairs, and helping to create separate learning stations with the use of movable storage units.
The second mini grant was used for purchasing educational toys and learning supplies—a playhouse, a sand and water play table, blocks, easel, and science and art supplies. Carliss, who works with the infants and babies, also purchased stimulating toys and equipment for the baby room.
“KidSquad is not only giving us the guidance we need, but also access to resources we didn’t know were available,” Shelina continues, noting that she and Carliss have attended multiple training courses in recent months. “Plus Ingrid introduces new ideas and resources every week and we’re so excited to have access to this. She’s teaching us that there’s power in the play and that kids are learning all the time. She’s helping us with curriculum building and guiding us to help the kids with emotional growth and regulation. We want to make this the best quality child care, the best standard of excellence we can. We’re going to make it great!”
If you know a child care provider who could benefit from this free program, contact Jana Habrock with KidSquad at 402.504.3637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Child Saving Institute is the lead agency in a collaborative group of agencies that highly value children, families and early childhood educators in the Omaha community. The collaboration also includes: Center for Holistic Development; Early Childhood Training Center; Heartland Family Service; Lutheran Family Services; Munroe Meyer Institute; and Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare.