Franklin County’s mounting childcare crisis

first_imgA UMF student works with children at Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Education Center.This article has been updated with more accurate information. FARMINGTON – The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a long overdue, and revealing, light on the position of early childhood education in the United States. Numerous articles and studies have shown the desperate scramble for childcare during the last year, and what the world would look like if that resource suddenly went away. While many centers closed as the virus took hold, Maine’s were allowed to stay open, deemed “essential” right alongside hospitals and grocery stores. But unlike a hospital or a grocery store, childcare centers, and those who operate them, are not paid the way doctors are paid, and are not a business the way Hannaford is a business.“Budgets are always the issue,” University of Maine at Farmington’s Patti Bailie said. “Until we put children and those that work with them at a higher priority, we won’t see what we need to be seeing.”Bailie is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at UMF. Through the nationally recognized program, Bailie guides students along their path toward working with kids. Students get real life experience in the classroom at UMF’s Sweatt-Winter Program, and have the opportunity to explore the career in depth with the help of Bailie. Even still, the majority of her students don’t envision themselves running their own center, she said, because as anyone with skin in the game knows, it’s not a money maker.“One of the things that we know needs to happen is building up the number of people who are trained and qualified and wanting to work in childcare. It’s not just a matter of facilities, but a matter of having a strong workforce of qualified workers. The pay is so low and there are no benefits, so people aren’t attracted to the job,” Maine Association for the Education of Young Children Executive Director Tara Williams said.Right now in all of Franklin County, there are only 42 licensed childcare centers according to Williams, who was taken aback by the number. In response, MAEYC has created the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship- a nearly full ride, including a small living stipend, for those interested in the career. But Williams envisions flooding the issue with even more resources, and using UMF has a catalyst toward that goal. Much like Educare Central Maine , Williams sees UMF and Sweatt-Winter as a possible hub for high quality training, the best learning environment for little kids, and an invaluable resource for local parents who are seeking help.It is the goal of Sweatt-Winterto be expanding by fall 2022, increasing the number of children they can enroll by 30 percent. Their new home will be at 274 Front Street in Farmington, and will include classrooms for UMF students directly in the facility. The project has been a collaborative effort, Bailie said. The building committee worked not only with UMF staff and students, but community members, non-profit organizations, and even the children themselves.“It’s up to all of us to be a part of this,” Director of Youth and Family Outreach Camelia Babson-Haley said.YFO is a Portland-based childcare center that focuses on a high-quality learning environment for children, staff and parents alike. Right now, roughly 66 percent of YFO’s enrolled children come from low-income families. That number is slightly higher because of the pandemic, Babson-Haley said. As the virus spread throughout Maine, it was typically the financially well off families who were able to make other, private arrangements, or adjust work schedules to stay home. Families with smaller incomes had fewer options, she said.“Fewer options” can mean a variety of things, but often includes parents dropping children off at a neighbor’s house or a relative’s home who is willing to babysit, which only becomes problematic if the quality of that situation isn’t up to speed with what a child needs in order to thrive in this world today. That “quality” doesn’t need to be elaborate, Regional School Unit 9 Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia said, but does need to include some basics such as an emphasis on books, conversation and teaching independence when it comes to things such as tying shoes.“Those are the biggest things we look at as kids enter the public school system,” she said.According to Bailie, childcare facilities should strive for a “home like” environment, one that places a focus on nature-based and play-based learning. She teaches this to her students through a Planning Environments class.“What we want are authentic experiences in beautiful environments. We don’t see a lot of that,” Bailie said.Many students return from their practicum experiences, working and learning in real childcare facilities throughout Franklin County, with reports of a lack of quality, she said. Which is where the licensing comes in.The Maine Association for the Education of Young Children is not just for members, according to Williams, but strives to serve all those who work with young children in the state of Maine. That goal aside, MAEYC does encourage facilities to at least enroll in the “Quality Rating System”, which opens the doors to funding, training and other resources. Currently there are 450 members, Williams said.“There is no reason that someone working with children shouldn’t at least be on the Quality Rating System. It’s just a matter of looking critically at what you do every day with these little brains. 90 percent of brain development happens before Kindgeraten, so we have to be looking critically at this,” Babson-Haley said.The system looks at things as simple as offering a family handbook, or parent teacher conferences, but as the rating gets higher it takes into consideration the education level of lead teachers, and what a facility might be serving for lunch.“A high-quality program comes down to high-quality interactions between teachers and children. It’s about being brave enough to put yourself under that magnifying glass, letting people see that, and saying ‘look at what I’m doing. I’m doing it right’,” she said.Disclosure: The author of this article is related to one of the interviewees.last_img read more

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Notre Dame expands Asian studies courses

first_imgThe creation of a 2014 summer studies program in India and the on-campus Asian Studies Seminar on China this semester will provide Notre Dame students with the opportunity to further investigate their interest in Asia.According to Inez Suhardjo, director of undergraduate studies at the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the summer India studies program comes in the wake of Fr. Jenkins’ recent travels to Asia and the announcement of the University’s partnerships with various Asian universities.“We wanted to keep up with the momentum of India being important on campus,” she said.The summer India studies program will allow students to spend two weeks at the St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai while earning three Asian Studies credits, Suhardjo said.“It’s a specially designed program with nine different modules, anything from popular culture, to traditional Indian art, to history,” she said. “It’s going to be a kind of survey introduction to India for any students interested, anyone who wants to get a sense of India, on the ground in India.”Suhardjo said student interest also contributed to the creation of the India summer studies program.“I had met with students at the end of last year, who had either been to India or were from India, and they were saying that Notre Dame just doesn’t have enough [classes] about India,” she said. “This is a way to speak to those concerns and those wishes, for something to do with India programmatically.”  Steph Wulz | The Observer Suhardjo said the summer program is just the first of several programs the University plans to develop with the intent of building stronger ties with India.“There are also some programs in the works for exchange programs, and we’re hoping after this pilot run of our summer India studies program that we can build this from here and make it bigger and better, to have it apply to University requirements,” she said.Students from all majors are encouraged to apply to the program, Suhardjo said.“India is going to be such an important player on the world stage that it’s important for everyone to really think about India on a deeper level, and get to know it and understand its position in the world,” she said. “It’s open to people who are looking to build Asia as a concept in their degrees, so it’s definitely something we’re hoping to get everyone involved and interested in.”As for the Asian Studies Seminar, Suhardjo said this one-credit course is built around a series of guest lecturers and will take place this semester from March 27 to April 4.“It’s a way for us to encourage students to connect with really important, prominent scholars that are coming to campus,” she said.The guest lectures are open to the public, but Suhardjo said visiting scholars will additionally lead small class sessions for students in the Asian Studies Seminar.“This semester we have a couple of very prominent scholars coming from China, and they will be discussing China today, in a historical and religious context,” she said. “One is speaking about the cultural diversity of rural areas, and another will be speaking about philosophical Daoism and Confucianism in China today.”Suhardjo said these programs aim to promote a deeper awareness of global interaction among students.“Both China and India are important, and these programs are a way for us to make sure the Notre Dame community is linked in to what is going on in Asia and seeing how the world is interconnected,” she said.Tags: Asian studies seminar, China, India, Liu Institute, study abroadlast_img read more

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Tom Bateman & Lucy Briggs-Owen to Headline Shakespeare in Love

first_img The movie, penned by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard and directed by John Madden, Shakespeare in Love won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress for Gwyneth Paltrow and Best Supporting Actress for Judi Dench. The film also starred Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush and Tom Wilkinson. Bateman’s stage credits include The Duchess of Malfi, Much Ado About Nothing, The Lion in Winter and Lizzie Siddal. He’s appeared on TV in Da Vinci’s Demons and The Tunnel. Briggs-Owen’s stage credits include Boris Godunuv, The Orphan of Zhao, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cardenio,  The City Madam, Noises Off, The Way of the World, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Private Lives, The Importance of Being Earnest and Fortune’s Fool. View Comments Can you love a fool? Can you love a player? Can you love Tom Bateman and Lucy Briggs-Owen as the lead roles of Will Shakespeare and Viola De Lesseps in the West End’s Shakespeare in Love? Of course, you can! Adapted by Tony winner Lee Hall and directed by Olivier winner Declan Donnellan, the previously announced production will begin previews at London’s Noel Coward Theatre on July 2. Opening night is set for July 23. Additional casting will be announced soon. Set in London during the late 16th century, Shakespeare in Love centers on young playwright William Shakespeare, who is struggling with his latest work Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter. A great fan of Shakespeare’s plays is young, wealthy Viola who is about to be married to the cold-hearted Lord Wessex, but constantly dreams of becoming an actress. Women were not allowed to act on stage at that time, but, dressed up as a boy, Viola successfully auditions for the part of Romeo. Soon she and William are caught in a forbidden romance that provides rich inspiration for his play.last_img read more

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Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer on opposite sides of Australian Open draw

first_imgSerbia’s Novak Djokovic (L) and Switzerland’s Roger Federer shake hands at the end of their men’s singles semi-final tennis match on day six of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 – Rolex Paris Masters – indoor tennis tournament at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris, on November 3, 2018. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)MELBOURNE, Australia— Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are aiming for the same record from opposite sides of the draw, leaving open the prospect of them playing in the final for a seventh Australian Open title.Top-ranked Djokovic and defending champion Federer enter the season-opening major equal with Roy Emerson, who won his six Australian singles championships between 1961-67, before the Open era.ADVERTISEMENT Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title MOST READ Philippine Army to acquire MANPADS, self-propelled howitzers Japeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for Ginebra Tom Brady most dominant player in AFC championship history Serena Williams already has won seven Australian Open singles titles, and is a strong contender to add another after skipping last year’s tournament while on leave after having a baby.Now seeded 16th, Williams was drawn into the same section Thursday as No. 1-ranked Simona Halep, the runner-up last year. The pair could meet in the fourth round.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissDjokovic starts at the top of the draw and will open against a qualifier. Things could get much tougher quickly, with a potential second-round meeting against wild-card entry Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who he beat in the 2008 Australian final, and with Denis Shapovalov in the same section. Eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who opened the season with a title in Brisbane, is a potential quarterfinal rival and No. 4 Alexander Zverev looms as a semifinal opponent if both players advance that far.Federer, who has won the last two at Melbourne Park in a career resurgence, is in the bottom half of the draw with second-ranked Rafael Nadal, who is returning from an injury layoff. One of the most intriguing men’s first-round matches features 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic against mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios, who is unseeded after his ranking slid from 13 into the 50s, but has tour-level wins over Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to his credit.Williams will face Tatjana Maria in the first round, and could meet either Genie Bouchard or Peng Shaui in the second. Halep has drawn another first-round against Kaia Kanepi, who beat her at the same stage at last year’s U.S. Open, and a possible third rounder against unseeded Venus Williams.Caroline Wozniacki, who won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year after a tough final against Halep, is in the same section as Maria Sharapova and has Petra Kvitova at the top of her quarter.“The first time I came back here and hit on the courts, I thought, ‘OK, I’m home,’” the third-seeded Wozniacki said of her return to Melbourne Park. “I feel like these courts are suited for me, so it’s incredible to be back. I’m just enjoying every minute of it.”Second-seeded Angelique Kerber, who won the Australian and U.S. Opens in 2016 and added the Wimbledon title last year, is in the same half as Wozniacki and has 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in her quarter.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil These athletes also joined 2019 Traslacion of Black Nazarene Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Aiming for a 21st Grand Slam trophy and a 100th career singles title, Federer will open against Denis Istomin. And with No. 6 Marin Cilic in the same quarter, there’s potential for a rematch of the 2018 final a few rounds early.“I’m so close, I’ll give it a go,” Federer said. “If I made 100 at the Australian I’d take it, I’d gladly accept it — and I’ll give it all I have.”But, he noted before heading out to practice after attending the tournament draw with his trophy, “the moment you find out the draw, that’s when you shift your focus to the first round and only the first round.”Cilic was drawn into the same section as five-time finalist Andy Murray, who is coming back from a long-term hip injury and is set to open against No. 22-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut.Murray won only two games in an incomplete practice match with Djokovic at Melbourne Park, showing signs he’s still not fully fit after spending most of the last 18 months off the tour. Murray played at the season-opening Brisbane International last week, where he won his first-round match against James Duckworth but lost in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev in the second, limping between points and admitting he’s still dealing with his troublesome right hip.ADVERTISEMENT Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college LATEST STORIES In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

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