The Early Childhood Network Connects Valley Parents With A Much-Needed Service

Securing child care in the valley can be daunting. Where to start? The thought of leaving your little one at the mercy of strangers—during one of the most critical stages of his or her development—can feel overwhelming.

Choose private at-home care or a pre-school? Which one can you trust? Education, developmental nurturing, adult-to-child ratio: What do you look for in a provider? And what about expense, social service support, scholarships, safety, cleanliness, CPR?

Where is Mary Poppins when you need her?!

Well, if Mary Poppins had an agent, Joni Goodwin would fit the bill.

Her name says it all—Goodwin sparkles with excitement and reassuring warmth. As a mother, teacher, and coach in-the-know, the work of connecting families with quality care is her all-consuming passion.

So how does this Poppins-peddler work her magic?

As executive director of the nonprofit Early Childhood Network (ECN) in Glenwood, Goodwin serves Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, and Lake counties to ensure better quality and quantity of child care in our region. Through advocacy, training, coaching, and collaboration with other agencies, ECN helps the full spectrum of child care providers to “raise their own bar,” she says. With services improving every year, ECN is then better able to “connect families with child care options that work for them by providing free, personalized referrals to licensed child care providers.”

Is early childhood care really that important?

“Socio-emotional behavior is a predictor for everything in life,” says Goodwin, pointing to the research. “It is key for learning, development, and healthy growth.”

But finding the best option for your child takes time and effort.

ECN has done this work for parents already, continuously updating and culling providers in their database of local child care options. ECN keeps tabs on each one, particularly when they have openings.

“We’re a very under-tapped resource,” Goodwin says. “Use us! We don’t have all the answers, but we’ll help find them. That’s where our hearts are. We want the conversation—that’s why we don’t simply list them in a drop down menu on a website. It might overwhelm a parent and they give up, or think they can’t afford it.”

ECN can help parents find financial assistance, such as scholarships or help from the Child Care Assistance Program. ECN can discuss what quality child care should look like to help parents make better choices. ECN also offers workshops to care providers, such as FLIP IT®, which teaches parents, preschool, and daycare providers how to ‘flip’ challenging behaviors in children. Teachers and parents who can help children self-regulate, deepen socio-emotional skills, and identify different emotions provide warm, safe environments for early learning.

ECN recognizes the power and potential of early childhood development. They are an effective first step. Simply contact them: 970.928.7111 or EarlyChildhoodNet.org.