Beaufort County puts babies firstPublished 8:19pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013
A new program offering free child care for children ages six weeks to 24 months, is putting babies first.
NC Babies First is part of North Carolina’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant. Its design is to teach the littlest ones how to learn—by discovery and imitation — and provide a child care environment that will build a foundation for, and love of, future learning.
The half-day programs are free. Parents can choose morning sessions, afternoon sessions or non-traditional hours, like a 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. slot, for five days a week in a four or five star licensed child care facility. The parts are in place: Clark’s Kiddie Corral in Chocowinity, Kingdom Kids Academy and Care-O-World in Washington are all approved for the program. Now, all that’s needed are participants, according to Ginger Thomas, program’s coordinator.
“We’ve gotten a few applications, but the spaces are not filled in the county,” Thomas said.
Thomas holds two degrees and has had a 25-year-career in they early childhood field. Her role is not just as an organizer, she’s also a mentor to all the teachers involved in the program—a teaching coach.
“I’m actually going into their classrooms and observing what they’re doing as well as being a mentor for them,” Thomas said. “I’m another set of hands and someone who they can hear and see doing the appropriate things with children.”
What she does is facilitate the teaching process, identifying where extra time and energy is taken that detracts from the one-on-one time with the kids. She’s also an observer and helps teachers recognize how children learn in different ways: a child watching on the sidelines doesn’t necessarily have to participate if that child is engaged in the process, watching and learning from his or her peers.
“Sometimes teachers don’t realize that’s okay,” Thomas explained. “You don’t always have to be in their faces for children to be getting the information that they need — especially young children.”
The point is to promote learning and development — emotionally, socially, physically and cognitively — and priority groups are being targeted: children of teen parents, those diagnosed with a chronic condition, homeless children, children at risk for or have developmental issues, and those receiving services through Child Protective Services.
Those interested in becoming a part of the program can contact Thomas at 252-628-9844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A birth certificate, proof of residency and proof of income are required to participate.