Program enriches local daycares

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NOEL, Mo. – For Jennifer Harris, this daycare is more than just a workplace, it’s a home.

“It was a daycare that was created by my grandmother 37 years ago. And I’ve been here for about 25 years. Really, I started working here as a young teenager and have been here ever since,” Harris explained.

After all these years of wear and play, this center gets some special attention thanks to the Early Childhood Specialist Network (ITSN) program funded by the Alliance of SWMO.

About ITSN

“We are not a regulatory program. We do not act as a permit to examine the installation. We’re just here to improve, provide training…and we really work, I think, very closely with directors and suppliers to see what needs they really want and need to improve programs where they’re already doing a great job. said Tanya Thomas, ITSN Coordinator with the SWMO Alliance.

The ITSN is only a few years old, but the idea is to recruit centers in need of resources or technical assistance and provide assistance over a period of six months. The program currently serves 10 counties with the hope of expanding.

“We are currently in Jasper, McDonald County, Perry County and Lawrence County. We have another cohort that we are going to start, starting in July,” Thomas explained. “We try to increase the quality of care in these centers because of their state-subsidized payments. We try to level the playing field between publicly funded programs and privately funded programs. »

Make the difference

From timely education for onsite staff to enriching toys for children in a sensory room, ITSN is making a difference in the lives of children in Southwestern Missouri.

“It makes your day; like, there’s nothing better,” Thomas said.

“I don’t think they could stay with anything for more than two minutes because they were just on to the next thing and they really enjoyed it because we needed some new stuff here,” Harris said.

For more information on ITSN, contact the Alliance of SWMO at 417-782-9899.

*Kate Kelley is also employed by the Alliance of SWMO.

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