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BOONE — With the changing landscape of the upcoming school year and the reality that children will either be participating in fully virtual or part-time virtual school, most parents are faced with the uncertainty of who will care for their children from day to day in the coming months while they work.

For many, there is the added dilemma of how to help children with school work. This has brought about a new level of stress that did not exist to this extent before the pandemic hit.

“There was already a shortage of child care in Watauga County before COVID-19,” said Elisha Childers, executive director of the Children’s Council. “The pandemic made us more aware of the importance of good, quality care for children while parents work. Parents across our nation have been figuring out how to balance the demands of caring for their children with their own need to work. Suddenly we understand what good, quality child care means to our workforce and our economy. Now that schools have announced their plans, parents are faced with choices about care for young children and school-aged children alike.”

In response, there will likely be an increase in the number of grandparents, family members, friends and neighbors who are helping each other by taking care of children so parents can work. The team at the Children’s Council has knowledge, expertise, information and materials to help. In the coming weeks, we will be revealing plans to support caregivers in our community with activities that promote children’s development and learning, information about managing challenging behaviors, and general support to help caregivers.

For individuals who love caring for children and who have considered opening a child care business in their home, this may be the perfect time to do so. A family child care home can offer a wonderful income stream for many families, allowing a parent to be home with their own children while caring for others. This type of child care is a desirable option for many working parents, offering high quality care in a home-like, small group setting. There is an especially high need for licensed caregivers to provide care to infants and toddler in our community.

According to Lee Marshall, child care consultant for the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education, “Watauga has one of the strongest family child care home communities in any of the counties I work in. They are very professional and run it as a business in their home. They are very willing to offer help to those who are new and to welcome them into the FCCH world.”

There are laws that govern the number of children a person can watch in their home and a process to become licensed to do so. The Children’s Council will offer an online information session for individuals interested in opening and operating a family child care home program from noon until 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 12.

For more information, email Roberta Yates at roberta@thechildrenscouncil.org. Community members can also register at https://bit.ly/2BFxNvn.

If you are caring for young children — your own children/grandchildren, or those of your friends and neighbors — the Children’s Council offers a wealth of information, activity ideas, resources, and support for those who find themselves at home more often with their children these days. We’d love to connect with you.

Follow the Children’s Council on Facebook for ideas and information, or give them a call at (828) 262-5424 or (828)-355-5118. You can also visit us on our website at www.thechildrenscouncil.org.

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