Sue Bailey, TTU’s director of Human Ecology, agrees.
“TTU and the School of Human Ecology are fortunate to have the center on campus because it’s a primary source of information about quality care of children in the Upper Cumberland — but it’s also much more than that,” she said. “Everyone here who has young children can benefit from having the center at such a close proximity.”
The center, which is funded by the Tennessee Department of Human Services, is one of 11 such facilities across the state, and it serves nearly 350 child care providers throughout the region. Those facilities include Head Start programs, day care centers and registered, group and family day care homes.
“Our services are for practically everyone — from parents who need to locate a quality child care facility, to the child care providers themselves, to businesses who are concerned about child care for their employees and even community organizations concerned about our area’s future,” said Betty Vaudt, program manager.
In fact, child care issues affect 40 percent of the area’s labor force, she said, and research has shown that children enrolled in quality preschool programs tend to perform better both academically and financially.
Types of assistance the Child Care Resource and Referral Center offers to child care facilities include free technical assistance with site visits, telephone calls, lending library resources, workshops, health consultations and free Tennessee Child Care Provider Training.
In addition, it is the center’s responsibility to be able to give up-to-date child care information to all interested persons, find out what services are needed and wanted by both child care providers and parents and assist concerned groups in coming together to support quality child care.
Another important role for the center is providing internships and voluntary service learning hours to participating TTU Human Ecology students.
“The students come away with a clear understanding of what is needed to establish and maintain a successful child care business where children are kept in loving and safe environments that promote the positive development of children,” she said. “In addition to this academic enrichment, students also receive excellent mentoring by the child care specialists.”
For more information about Upper Cumberland child care issues, call the Child Care Resource and Referral Center at 931/372-3780.