Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A. | 3/27/2007 11:46:43 PM
News You Can Use For 03/27/07
Many families face tough decisions when shopping for child care, but LSU AgCenter child-care expert Cheri Gioe says there are resources to help them make the best decisions.
Agencies known as Child Care Resource and Referral Programs are located in various areas across Louisiana. They provide free assistance to families who are actively searching for care and need help with making informed decisions about the best care for their children, according to Gioe.
"Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions many parents must make but they often lack the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about appropriate care for their children," Gioe said.
Child Care Resource and Referral Programs provide customized referrals for individuals to local child-care programs, information on state licensing requirements, information on child-care subsidies and other pertinent information regarding child care and child development.
"Better yet, these resource and referral programs often offer these conveniences by phone, in person or via the Internet, fax or mail," Gioe said. "Although Child Care Resource and Referral Programs don’t make specific recommendations about child-care providers, they have a wealth of information to help you choose."
The programs also offer workshops, hotlines and newsletters designed to help families make informed choices that lead to quality child-care programs and healthy and happy children.
"In most communities, the demand for child care is greater than the supply of child care," Gioe explained. "So Child Care Resource and Referral programs also help child-care providers meet licensing requirement and may offer low-cost or free training in diverse topics such as health and safety, child development and business practices."
In addition, the programs provide ongoing professional development opportunities for child-care providers, support child-care accreditation efforts and help create incentives for furthering education and advocating for better compensation for providers.
"Child Care Resource and Referral programs are a major source of information about the local supply and cost of child care," Gioe said. "This makes them able to track trends about the changing needs of families.
"In addition, these programs collaborate with family support services and others to promote a vision of child care that includes health, literacy and special needs."
In Louisiana, Child Care Resource and Referral programs are primarily funded by contracts with the Louisiana Department of Social Services and contributions from individuals and corporations.
The state’s programs are divided into regions. They are:
–Volunteers of America Partnerships In Child Care, Baton Rouge region, (888) 926-8005.
–Northwestern State University Child and Family Network, Alexandria and Shreveport regions, (800) 796-9080.
–Excellence for Children, Lafayette and Lake Charles regions, (866) 374-9460.
–Northeast Louisiana Child Care Connections, Monroe region, (877) 206-0819.
–Agenda for Children, Orleans, Thibodaux and Covington regions, (800) 486-1712.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.