On a recent morning, 15 women gathered in a mint-green classroom at First Lutheran Church in Longmont, Colorado, to learn more about the fundamentals of childcare. They talked about mapping out daily schedules with time for reading activities, group play, meals, and naps. They traded tips about the inexpensive educational materials available at Dollar Tree stores.
But this was no Saturday-morning babysitting boot camp. It was part of a 120-hour training course that will eventually earn participants a national childcare credential.
What made the class unique was the women enrolled. Ranging in age from 20-something to 60-something, they were Spanish-speaking mothers, aunts, and grandmas who care for the young children of friends and relatives in their homes. Some do it for free. Others earn a small wage.
Most are undocumented immigrants and, as a result, they are not eligible to become licensed childcare providers in Colorado. Still, they are a critical part of Colorado’s early-childhood workforce—one that is often overlooked in the policy realm.