“YoungStar was a dramatic change…but better. It’s a great program. I love YoungStar.”
– Elizabeth Wooldridge, Director,
Auntie E’s Childcare, Waukesha
Transitions: Not Just Hard for Children
Elizabeth was 18 when she started working in child care. Years later in 2006 when she opened her certified family child care program, Auntie E’s Childcare, she had considerable experience in early education. But YoungStar required some transitions that she had not encountered before. “It was a big change,” said Elizabeth, “but a good change.” Elizabeth has five children currently in her care; a 7 month old, three 2-year-olds, and a 5-year-old. Elizabeth said that the YoungStar trainings and the chance to continue her education through a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship has “helped out a lot.” Through her education she discovered new techniques for teaching that she put to use, which motivated the children in her care to become more engaged in play and discovery. “I love that I finished my [Early Childhood Associate’s] degree because of YoungStar,” said Elizabeth. With the support of YoungStar, her Technical Consultant, Marilu Rodriguez-Kroll, and her mother, who helped with the business, Elizabeth graduated last year. “You know how they say it takes a village to raise a family?” laughed Elizabeth. “Well, it takes a village to run a child care.” Elizabeth not only earned her degree, she earned a 4 Star rating for her child care program as well; one of the few certified family child care programs in the state to do so.
Evolving Through YoungStar
Since YoungStar, Elizabeth noted, her program has grown. One benefit is that parents can look her up on the YoungStar website, which Elizabeth said helps families make more informed child care choices and has opened up a new pool of customers for her. Aside from that, changes and additions made to the learning environments at her care have been plentiful, thanks to financial assistance provided through YoungStar. They now have areas for things like dramatic play and writing, and more educational toys for children to explore. “I see the children engaging more which is great for them to learn,” enthused Elizabeth. “I see them working together, rather than fighting.” Another innovation is doing individual portfolios to better support and track children’s development. “To be able to document that [growth] and know the right way to observe, is good for the provider, the child, and the parents,” said Elizabeth.
On to the Next Challenge
Besides continuing her climb through YoungStar, Elizabeth has started to work with her Pre-Licensing Specialist, Toni Kutner, in preparation for the licensing process. She hopes to be licensed by next Spring. She also plans to eventually expand her program to a small group center that focuses on continuity of care, with the same teachers day to day, and a “home atmosphere.” “I love what I do, I wouldn’t change anything,” said Elizabeth, recalling moments like when she sneezed and all of the children chimed in to say, “Bless you, Auntie.” “I get so much gratification from the kids. It’s the little things that keep you going.”
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