Marcela Irribarren/ The Broadside
Early learning and childcare are starting to become a reality here at Central Oregon Community College. The institution was recently awarded a Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant. The CCAMPIS grant will support the development of the new program called Little Kits Early Learning and Child Care Center, which offers families of students and employees at both COCC and Oregon State University-Cascades childcare services.
OSU-Cascades currently has an early learning program called Little Beavs, which will eventually merge with COCC and the program will be called Little Kits in September 2022.
The program will be serving children of enrolled OSU and COCC students, and staff members. The remaining openings will be available to the greater community.
“From the community college side, we know that our students, particularly women, are more likely to finish their degrees and certificates if they have reliable childcare,” said Amy Howell, director of the Early Childhood Program.
COCC and OSU-Cascades are working together and have different workgroups as they are preparing for the launch of Little Kits. One of those groups is focused on the curriculum and how children will be taught in this space.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), has standards for such programs. Little Kits is working towards making the program accredited by NAEYC if guidelines with certain standards are set in place.
Little Kits will take into account the ages and stages of children. Developmentally Appropriate Practice is a framework for providing the right practice for the different stages and ages of children. This practice also includes individual children’s needs, whether they have special needs that are being assessed at the moment.
The program will have culturally responsive teaching and understanding in children’s lives which help teachers foster a sense of belonging and ensure that all children feel respected and challenged.
“In order for a program to be developmentally appropriate, it must be culturally responsive to the children and families social and cultural needs as well,” said Howell.
Intentional interactions through play-based activities can help children build their imagination, symbolic representation, social interaction, and emotional skills.
Students who apply must meet certain eligibility requirements in order to qualify for CCAMPIS funding. Eligibility will be based on a sliding scale towards the students’ needs. Little Kits has a limited number of spots currently, depending on if the student is attending part-time or full-time.
Students and families must apply to Little Kits first. Once they are notified that they are accepted, they can start the enrollment process. Options for financial help will be available such as CCAMPIS, which students and families can apply for.
For students who are looking for child care in their community, Howell encourages them to reach out to her so she can help direct students to resources and child care resources.
If you haven’t already, check out the children’s area of the Barber Library called Children’s Literature and Equity Resource Center which offers a collection of children’s books!
Email Amy Howell at email@example.com for more information.