Monday, July 23, 2001

Day-care training classes cut


Funds lacking for program that aided working mothers

By Emily Biuso
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Rosina Gatewood worries she's going to lose her job as lead infant teacher at Westside Child Development Center in Price Hill. To keep her position she needs the child development associate national credential that is held by many child-care workers.

        But with three daughters, full-time work and a tight budget, she can't enroll in daytime college classes that offer the required CDA training.

        Ms. Gatewood is on the waiting list for a free early childhood education program run by New Hope Family Worship Center and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

        During its first year the Hamilton County funded-program offered college classes on nights and weekends, and provided 29 students on-site child care and meals to suit a working mother's schedule.

        But Ms. Gatewood may be waiting for nothing.

        The Hamilton County Department of Human Services, forced by the state to slash $30 million from its budget, did not renew the

        program's contract. Unless they find new funds, program directors cannot offer the classes in September.

        “If I don't get these classes, they're going to drop me from lead teacher,” said Ms. Gatewood, 39, who is still employed at the center.

        A five-year center veteran, she doesn't want to lose the job she loves: “I can't mess up here.”

        For Ms. Gatewood and many others on the about 100-person waiting list for the program, the New Hope/Cincinnati State collaboration is their best shot at child-care training, a college degree and a better job.

        In June, 29 women completed the program, earning the qualifications to test for their child development associate certification. Twenty completed 54 college credits and the remaining nine completed 39 credits. Most expressed interest in completing their associate's degree, which is quickly becoming an important credential in obtaining child-care jobs.

        “The New Hope effort is very effective,” said Kevin Holt, the section chief over subsidized care for the Department of Human Services. “I really regret that we can't continue these funds.”

        The 10-month contract that expired June 30 was for $233,143, Mr. Holt said. He estimates that it would take $120,000 to fund the program for another 10 months.

        The women who completed the 10 months of classes in June are waiting to hear whether they'll be able to complete their associate's degree through the program.

        “There's no way I would be able to go back to school full time to get my associate's degree any other way,” said Michelle Sollmann, who now has 54 college credits and is preparing to take the test to receive her child development associate certification.

        Miss Sollmann, 20, is typical of the participants in the New Hope/Cincinnati State program. She works full time at Cincinnati State's day-care facility, the William L. Mallory Child Development Center, while raising her 16-month-old daughter, Lydia.

        Program coordinators recruited mothers already working in child care and making less than twice the poverty line.

        “A lot of obstacles keep our ladies from surviving at a traditional college setting,” said the Rev. Kyle Wade of New Hope, the program's coordinator. “The dropout rate is outstanding at a lot of our universities.”

        Though grants and financial aid are available to the women if they choose to take early childhood education classes at Cincinnati State or another school, the location, time and extra support offered by coordinators of the New Hope/Cincinnati State program make the program special, participants said.

        “It gave you a sense that you were important,” said Sharon Pierce, a participant who offers day care from her home. “You're not just lost like you can be when you're at a big college.”

Educating day-care providers part of national effort



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