The day is hot, and I’m dying from having driven from work to the Brazil CRADLES site because my car doesn’t have air conditioning. I ring the doorbell of the childcare side of First Baptist Church. I’m immediately greeted with a smile from Mary Yelton who has been expecting me, and all of that hot day tension falls away. A woman who is very welcoming, she escorts me to a small chapel that we’ll sit down and talk in. The entire place has that classic older church smell that makes me think of Easter with my grandmother when I was a kid.
Upon entering the room, I see that Mary has brought all the documentation of the Quality Childcare Initiative Grant with her, a large vertical flip notebook filled with papers, receipts, and notes of every kind. She will leave no stone unturned. Soon we are joined by Evalyn Walton and Lisa Hudson.
Mary is the program director for CRADLES. Evalyn is the site coordinator at the Clay City location, and Lisa is the site coordinator here at the Brazil location. Having set up my camera to record and adjusted it numerous times to make sure I can hear and see everyone, I dive in.
“Tell me a bit about CRADLES. What’s your aim here?”
Evalyn takes up the mantle of breaking down the CRADLES acronym (which I didn’t even realize it was until this moment).
“Our aim is really reflected in our name. The acronym for CRADLES stands for Creating Responsible Adults by Developing Leadership and Education for Self-sufficiency.” Wow, that’s a big goal and a big name. “So, our target audience are parents that need to finish their education, whether that be high school or working on HSE, what used to be GED, or continuing on to college or trade school or CNA training or something like that. We want to come along side them, provide developmentally appropriate quality childcare for their children but affordable so they are able to continue whatever journeys they are on.” As a non-traditional college student with kids myself, I am aghast. What an amazing thing to provide for a community. It doesn’t end there though.
“Alongside of that, then, we also do parenting classes for parents that reflect both things we see as needs and things they have said that they were interested in.” CRADLES has people from CASY, local pastors, and other local experts in general parenting areas come in to provide these classes. They are also getting a mentoring program up and running for parents. “ Not that somebody is just going to sit you down and tell you how to do everything, but someone to just come alongside parents.”
CRADLES in Brazil has 12 kids, three of which are in the new On My Way Pre-K program that launched because of the QCIG. Like Sprouts and Nurture with Nature, the grant stretched to many different aspects of their schools. Mary explains that the Brazil site can now hold twenty children which is possible because of the grant.
“You applied and obviously got it, what impact did that make?”
“It was tremendous,” Evalyn explains from her point at the Clay City site. “At Clay City, our issues were costly physical things. We needed a more elaborate fire system, which we could not afford.” She also explains that for the Paths to Quality standards they needed better lighting in all of their rooms. They also needed a new classroom to provide more age-related lessons so that when all their renovations are done, they too can have an On My Way Pre-k program.
At the Brazil site, they added fencing to separate playgrounds according to age group.
Mary Yelton: “ The grant went to purchase a fence, of course, and built a tricycle track on two of them. Lots of equipment, like their music wall. There’s a mud kitchen. There’s a funnel sensory table. There’s a little house.”
Lisa Hudson: We’ve got the climbing wall, the slide. We’ve got a little box thing with wooden discs in it that they can stack.
Mary: “Then a stage where they can perform.”
Lisa: “We’ve got a boat and they’ll take little sticks and use them as fishing poles.”
They are obviously excited about the amazing things they were able to do with their grant. Along with the curriculum, they were able to open up several spots and become Paths to Quality level 3.
Is your childcare center ready to open up some awesome new paths for learning and imagination? Apply for the Quality Childcare Initiative Grant!