Winter 1992 // Volume 30 // Number 4 // Ideas at Work // 4IAW1

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Day Care Training Reaches Underserved Clientele

Abstract care business programs can provide useful education for audiences often underserved by Extension.

Stephen F. Duncan
Extension Family and Child Development Specialist
Department of Family and Child Development
Auburn University - Auburn, Alabama

One Alabama Extension program was useful for training home day care providers from varied backgrounds, but especially for blacks and lower-income clientele often underserved by Extension. The program, "Day Care for Children: A Business," was adapted from "Child Care: A Family Day Home Care Provider Program," by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. In 1990, 374 Alabama home day care providers were reached with this program.

Instruction was offered to home day care providers in four areas: child development and guidance, nutrition, health and safety, and business and management. A 403-page participant manual served as the information source for the program. Four videotape lessons, one for each area, highlight the information covered in the manual and show home day care providers in action.

Alabama county agents worked collaboratively with Department of Human Resources and other agency personnel to provide the training in a seminar format. Training was offered at different times (consecutive evenings or mornings, once a week for 2-3 weeks, or all-day Saturday) depending on local preferences. Participants spent an average of five hours in training sessions. They were charged $12 to cover the cost of the manual.

Day care providers who completed the training were sent a questionnaire asking them to assess the usefulness of the information they'd received and effectiveness of the program. Sixty-nine percent returned completed questionnaires. Respondents were nearly all female (98%), averaging 43 years of age and 12 years of schooling. Sixty-three percent were white, 35% black. Participants' median income was $15,000-$19,999.

Depending on the topic, from 61% to 93% reported the information as useful or very useful. Ninety-three percent of the respondents were satisfied with the program, with 87% rating it "very good" to "excellent." High percentages (87%-91%) reported that as a result of the program they've become aware of things they didn't know about, felt more self-confident in starting or continuing their day care business, had a better idea about additional training they need, and have developed skills useful in their day care business.

Correlational analyses showed that, while the vast majority of respondents found the program useful, regardless of educational level or previous training in child care, more black and lower-income respondents rated it very highly. Thus, day care business programs can provide useful education for audiences often underserved by Extension.