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Celebrating ‘Week of the Young Child’
Little Rascals Family Child Care had fun celebrating the Week Of The Young Child learning about instruments, making homemade pizza, doing fun art projects, working together building with magna tiles. To wrap up the week we invited parents and grandparents in for a family fun day, playing games, reading books, or doing an art projects with their children.

Blue Door Daycare

MONROE — For Jillynn Niemeier, necessity truly was the mother of invention when it came to finding childcare. Back in 2020, she couldn’t find care for her children. So in August of that year, she started her own childcare, Blue Door Daycare in Monroe.

“One of my friends was also having a hard time finding childcare for her newborn. My husband and my friend encouraged me to get started,” Niemeier said. “So I started on the journey to become a licensed family childcare and became licensed in March of 2021.”

Blue Door’s program is play based and provides a creative, nurturing family atmosphere. The program “allows children to grow into socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically mature people at their own pace, no matter their abilities,” Niemeier said. “My goal is to ensure the children have fun and learn from each other.”

There’s also an emphasis on being outdoors. “We spend a lot of time outside playing in the backyard, going for walks or going to the parks. I try to spend as much time outside as we can,” she said. “I encourage the children to play in the mud and to get messy.”

It can be tricky to balance everyone’s needs and schedules throughout the day. But those challenges aside, having a hand in helping children develop can be very rewarding.

“I love watching the children learn something new. They are so excited to show you what they just did on their own, or with their friends,” she said.

Like many of her colleagues in childcare, Niemeier would like to see more recognition for early childhood educators. “My biggest wish for the childcare profession is to get more recognition for what we do,” she said. “We also need to be able to earn a decent living to have a good life with our families.” 

Elevating childcare as a profession is a matter of sustainability for local communities.

“If there is no one to care for all the children in our lives, there is not going to be businesses or communities. If there is no childcare, then families will have to start making sacrifices to make it all work,” Niemeier said. “In the end, the children will be the ones losing out on opportunities.” 

The 50th Annual National Association for the Education of Young Children was last week. The week is to celebrate young children and their parents and educators. Child Care Programs throughout the county celebrated by making displays of children’s artwork, encouraging exploration of a variety of materials and inviting parents in for snacks and fun. 

The Growing Tree had a visit from Senator Tammy Baldwin’s regional Representative, Justin Williams who visited with the children, and took a tour of the center. They discussed the ongoing difficulty of recruiting and retaining high quality teachers when it is impossible to raise wages any higher. Currently, families in the county pay from 13-40% of their household income per child-on-child care. However, the true cost of care is approximately $1,800 per infant. Budgetarily, the only non-fixed item is the wages of the workforce. However, that low wage leads to higher turnover, empty rooms, and lower quality programs since young children need consistent, loving, and trusting relationships to develop their brains fully. He recommended that we apply for a Congressional Directed Spending grant through Senator Baldwin’s office to help offset costs to parents and allow for increased wages for the early childhood educators. 

Corrine’s Little Explorers had Justin visit as well along with Calvin Boldebuck from Representative Pocan’s office. Justin interacted with the children, and discussed family child care. Calvin was interested in the results from federal and state grants that Green County has procured through the United Way and Green County Workforce Development Seed Starter Grant and if it was something that they should try to legislatively support nationwide. 

Corrine reported that the mental health supports were very successful for the 12 participating programs and that the mentor program and that the Green County Child Care Network and supporters are looking for new funding to fund the program permanently, professional development stipends, and bonuses for family child care to become regulated or expand to licensed and staff for group centers has increased capacity and more are participating in Youngstar, therefore, eligible to accept children on subsidy. Department of Children and Families (DCF), Regional Representative, Nicole, came and visited to play with the children and talk about ways that DCF could better support our programs. Local Village Trustee, Tammy Newberry, came as well and played with the children and talked about the impact child care has on our broader economy and families in our community. 

Julie’s Child Care, Gloria’s PlayPals, Margret’s Clubhouse, Corrine’s Little Explorers, and Grandma Linda’s family child care programs created a spring display that will be up through April 16 in the Village Hall next to the library.