Celeste Swoboda is a WECA Board member, former president of the Wisconsin Family Child Care Association, and a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship recipient. She owns Teddy Bear Totland child care, a 5-star rated program in Chippewa Falls, WI.
Q: You’ve been a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipient. Tell us a little about your T.E.A.C.H. experience. What advice do you have for child care providers thinking about applying for a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship?
A: My first T.E.A.C.H. experience was with my Infant/Toddler Credential. Having the scholarship gave me an opportunity to go back to school and not worry about the expense of the classes. I have enjoyed working on my Administrators and Leadership credentials and Associate’s Degree through T.E.A.C.H. My advice is to call WECA—they are very helpful with any questions that you might have. I found that I have learned so much going back to school and the children in my care have benefited from the steps I have taken.
Q: What school courses have been most valuable to your career as a child care provider?
A: The courses that are directly related to children, specifically “Child Guidance”, “Children with Differing Abilities”, and “Early Childhood I and II”. That way, I am able to bring back many things to my children in my care.
Q: Going back to school can be overwhelming. For providers thinking about returning to school after being in the workforce for some time, what support do you recommend seeking out? What support have professional organizations such as WECA or the Wisconsin Family Child Care Association provided you?
A: It can be difficult returning back to school with a full-time job and family. My family was my biggest support system. They were always encouraging me and helping me around the house.
WFCCA and WECA have been supportive by having peers to network with who are currently going through a similar educational experience. Any professional questions I had have been answered quickly and professionally.
Q: The Wisconsin State Journal cover article states that 64% of child care programs received a 2-star rating. You received a 5-star rating through the accreditation process as a family child care provider. What advice do you have for programs thinking about getting accredited?
A: I have been accredited for over nine years and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I suggest that you find a mentor who has been through the process and can support you and help you. There are several ways you can find mentors. At the local level, find a provider who has gone through accreditation and network with them. Also, at the local, state, and national levels, joining a professional organization is a great way to meet potential mentors and build relationships that help you through the accreditation process.