by Cheryl Tyler, Child Care Answers Outreach Coordinator
Child Care Answers is a program of Early Learning Indiana and is one of Indiana’s nine state-funded child care resource and referral agencies. It serves parents, child care providers, and corporations as it works to enhance access to, and the quality of, child care services in Central Indiana. Child Care Answers works independently from our Day Early Learning centers and remains impartial when helping families choose child care programs.
At Child Care Answers, we wear many hats. Our coaches and training specialists provide top-notch support to help Central Indiana child care providers improve the quality of their programs. As Child Care Answers’ Outreach Coordinator, I lead a team that connects directly with the community – educating and consulting at fairs, committees, and coalition meetings. We also speak to businesses about how to best support their employees with child care options and challenges.
I talk with provider and community members every day, but the stories that stick with me the most have been when I was supporting parents directly. When I first started with Child Care Answers, I served as a Referral Specialist, helping parents with their search for child care. I spent 8-9 hours a day on the phone, talking to parents so I could compile lists to give them that detailed child care providers meeting their needs. Six years later, one of my first calls still sticks out in my mind. It was late in the afternoon of a particularly trying day.
My phone rang, and I took a deep breath and answered. “Thank you for calling Child Care Answers, your child care resource and referral. This is Cheryl. How can I help you?” The voice on the other end took a big deep breath, sighed, and started to tell me his story. He was a single dad who had a four-year-old daughter. She had been staying with Grandma (the caller’s mother) since she was born. He went on tell me that Grandma had just suffered a stroke and he needed someone to “watch” his daughter ASAP. As I listened, I could hear the fear in his voice. I asked him to give me a few minutes and I would try to ease his fears. I explained the different types of care available, what to look for, staff/child ratios, and the Paths to QUALITY program. As I gathered their information, I was able to find a list of licensed centers on Paths to QUALITY (per his request). He thanked me, asked my name again, and started to cry. He told me that, before he called, he felt so alone and scared of what might happen to his daughter. At the end of the call, he thanked me several times for helping and caring.
Several days later, I came into the office and had a voicemail. It was from this dad, and he wanted to tell me he found a Paths to QUALITY Level 4 center that had space and was very understanding of his situation. He thanked me again and said he was going to make sure all of his friends knew about Child Care Answers and how we help people. When people ask me what Child Care Answers does, or why I love what I do, this story always comes to mind.
If you are a parent, please rely on us at Child Care Answers.
We provide the following services for parents:
Free individualized referrals to family child care homes, centers, ministries, pre-schools, pre-K programs, before/after school care, and summer programs
Enhanced services for families with children who have special needs, infants/toddlers, and military families
Information on Indiana laws and regulations relating to child care
Education on how to choose a quality child care and early education program, as well as types of financial assistance that may be available.
Our website details more information on the above services, as well as services available for child care providers and the community. If you have any additional questions or needs, please give our office a call at (317) 636-5727, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.