Shelly Fischer has been on Princeton Street for 31 years and has been a partner with AWARE’s Early Head Start for the last seven of those years. She has grown from 10 children in 1992 to 147 today.
When asked to become a child care partner, Shelly was excited because of all the benefits that would come for the children and staff at her facilities. The primary benefit is the opportunity to increase the quality of child care being delivered.
“Early Head Start provides services for infants and toddlers, birth to age 3, along with their families. To be eligible for our services, they have to meet federal income poverty guidelines,” Colleen Bosch, AWARE’s early childhood services director, said.
Shelly works closely with AWARE staff to serve children that are on AWARE’s waiting list. The quality is top-notch and similar to the child care offered at AWARE’s Early Head Start Centers.
“Shelly has so many of our kiddos who get the same services as ours as long as they qualify. This also includes free meals and diapers,” Christina Bugni, AWARE’s Early Head Start education coordinator, said.
“I love it. It’s been such a great thing for all of us. For myself, the facilities, my teachers, the children and their parents — it’s just been a win-win for everyone,” Shelly said.
“By having the child care partners out in the community, children are able to stay in facilities they are familiar with. It’s also an opportunity for us to help private child care staff obtain credentials like the Child Development Associate, which can be a differentiator in early childhood education,” Colleen said.
“We’re all pretty much doing the same thing — just helping provide for those children that are in need,” said Shelly.
AWARE partners with local child care agencies in Billings, Belgrade, Bozeman, Butte, East Helena, and Helena. Once a child is enrolled, they are guaranteed an Early Head Start slot until their third birthday. Early Head Start support staff are available to provide family support, intervention, and assistance with health issues, challenging behaviors, attendance, and nutrition. For more information on partnering with AWARE Early Head Start or enrolling a child please visit www.aware-inc.org/ecs or send an inquiry to EarlyHeadStart@aware-inc.org.
This is part four of a series highlighting the history and impact of Early Head Start in Butte during the last 25 years. If you’re interested in volunteering or making a donation in support of Early Head Start click here. For more information, please contact Bryon Higgins at email@example.com or 406.563.8117.