Illuminating Child Care isn’t just delivering a service that is the foundation to all thriving economies by providing child care. It’s a program tearing down barriers, meeting parents where they are at and allowing families to grow stronger together. We sat down to talk with two parents among the first to rely on Illuminating Child Care to find out what impact having free access to child care teachers helping their infants and toddlers learn and grow onsite means to them while they are trying to get the support they need to strengthen their families.
“As a single mother, and as a single mother in recovery, the greatest barrier to me being able to complete those tasks that I need to complete and stay on track would be child care,” said Karie, one of several parents who’ve depended on Illuminating Child Care over the last month. “Honey is allowing me, as a mother, to stay on top of those other parts of my life so well.”
Honey is the name of Illuminate’s first mobile child care classroom, which began serving the Denver metro area this Fall by visiting places where people are addressing issues like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, so parents and providers don’t have to worry about arranging for child care. The second, yet to be named, mobile child care classroom is scheduled to begin serving communities in the San Luis Valley early next year.
One of the things Karie said she loves about Illuminating Child Care is that, even though she and Ava, her infant daughter, are apart for a short time, she doesn’t miss out on what’s happening with her daughter. “They provide the little report cards that allow me to stay updated with what’s happening with Ava during those couple of hours or so, so I know exactly what’s gone on with my child while she’s in the (mobile child care classroom). It allows me to not miss a beat as a mother.”
Illuminating Child Care couldn’t have come at a better time for Leana, a parent who not only uses Illuminating Child Care, but also helped advise Illuminate on the development of the program and services. “It’s a great program for the season of life that I’m in right now,” Leana said. “I believe that it’s just part of the new leaf that I’m turning over in my life. I think it’s a great program that’s available for mothers or fathers…. I believe these things are put in place for a reason.”
Having a safe place to take Nora, Leana’s daughter, has also allowed her to take time to work on important things in her life. “I can take care of some personal business and I can do the things that I need to take care of onsite there and I know that she is in good hands,” Leana said. “Even though it was a little scary at first, you know, being a mom and leaving your child. . . . I just felt that it was a really calming experience.”
According to Karie, it’s been such a gift to have someone to watch over her daughter, Ava. The communication and love from the Illuminate staff are so important and so meaningful to both her and her daughter. “I just love them so much,” Karie said of Madison, Eric and Patsy, the Illuminate staff on Honey. “I feel like they love Ava and I love that. I just have no worries or stress. I don’t doubt the level of care they provide for Ava.”
Before any parent can begin to address any complex issue impacting their family, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, they are far too often faced, first, with struggling to find child care. This fall, Illuminate Colorado launched Illuminating Child Care, our newest program, bringing an innovative systemic-approach to increasing access to child care for parents and caregivers navigating complex life situations. The program may just be getting started, but lives are already being impacted, including Karie, Ava, Leana and Nora.