Little by little, Liberal Area Coalition for Families aims to help new day-care providers get established
By RACHEL COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
As any day-care provider can attest, looking after children well is more about the little things than grand plans, so a small start is appropriate. That’s the same approach adopted by the Liberal Area Coalition for Families in its push to help establish more day-care options for parents and children. A Daycare Fair sponsored by LACF last weekend provided an example of baby steps for big results.
“We know we can’t just build a center overnight, as much as we might wish to,” said LACF director Sarah Mersdorf Foreman. “What we could do is encourage people who are interested in starting a home day care. The fair was our way of providing a first-step option for those people to meet up with potential mentors.”
In all, nine potential providers attended the Daycare Fair, where they met with six current daycare providers willing to answer questions and serve as mentors.
“I think we had really good participation. The mentor providers brought a lot of good perspective. Some of them have been in the business for 15 years,” said Mersdorf Foreman.
The established day-care providers were more than happy to share their knowledge and expertise, she noted.
“They are getting calls at least weekly from people who ask ‘Do you have any spots?’ And they have to say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m booked,’” said Mersdorf Foreman. “One woman told me she already has a waiting list for at least a year in advance. If she has a child move out, there are people on the list waiting to take that spot.”
At Saturday’s event, newcomers to the trade met the people who would be part of their set-up process: the local day-care facility inspector Wanda Covert of the Seward County Health Department, a representative from the Child and Adult Care Food Program sponsored by the USDA, and a member of Childcare Aware of Kansas, the Garden City-based referral service.
“It was a good first step for everyone,” said Mersdorf Foreman.
And the next step?
Free training for those who want to prepare to open day-care services. In partnership with Liberal’s own Mexican-American Ministries and the Garden City Area Mental Health Center, the coalition will sponsor a five-month series of training workshops for home child care providers.
“The whole thing, which is valued at $125 per provider, is free,” said Mersdorf Foreman. “We already have 10 people signed up. We want to accommodate as many people as possible, but there are just a few spots left.”
Organizers said, “providers will have learned practical and effective ways to guide positive development and help children manage their feelings, get along with others, use self-control, accept differences, resolve conflict peacefully and make healthy choices.”
In simple language? Less fussing and arguing, more peace, quiet and laughter.
Training begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Liberal Friends Church, 1650 N. Western, with four follow-up workshops to follow in July, August, September and October.
For information, contact Mersdorf Foreman at 655-7177 or by email at
Workshop offers social skills tool kit for child-care providers
At the Al’s Caring Pals training provided by the Liberal Area Coalition for Families, Mexican-American Ministries and the Garden City Area Mental Health Center, child-care providers will cover topics designed to help them understand and guide young children. These include:
June 18: Resilience and feelings
July 16: Listening and calming down
Aug 13: Brainstorming and meaningful involvement
Sept 17: Clear norms and problem-solving I
Oct. 15: Problem-solving II and creativity